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Heroes Among Us: Roughnecks Fight Back Vs. Swarm, 12-11

The Calgary Roughnecks (3-3) clawed back to .500 on the season with a thrilling 12-11 come-from-behind victory over the Georgia Swarm (3-3) on ‘Superhero Night’ at Scotiabank Saddledome in front of 9,531 fans. Despite playing in Saskatchewan the night before, the Riggers got better as the game went along and won the team’s seventh-straight game against the Swarm.

“That one’s up there for one of the most emotional victories or games I’ve ever been a part of in my lacrosse career,” said Roughnecks head coach Curt Malawsky. “It was awesome.”

The majority of the Roughnecks’ points were scored by Curtis Dickson (4g, 2a), Tyler Digby (5g, 0a) and Jeff Shattler (0g,5a). Georgia’s top scorers were Randy Staats (2g, 4a), Jesse King (1g, 4a), and Shayne Jackson (3g, 1a).

Curtis “Superman” Dickson opened up Superhero Night with a bang as he scored his 15th goal of the season to put the Roughnecks up 1-0 early. Georgia rookie and co-leading scorer Randy Staats tied the game 5 minutes later. This was the first of three straight goals for the Swarm, with Johnny Powless striking on the powerplay and Shayne Jackson scored a minute later to put Georgia ahead 3-1. Tyler Digby got one back on the power play to bring the Riggers within one as Georgia led Calgary 3-2 after the first. Shots were 19 for Georgia, 13 for Calgary.

Georgia continued its strong play into the second as Jackson scored his second of the game to put his team ahead 4-2. Chad Tutton potted his second of the night past Calgary goalie Frankie Scigliano as the Swarm took a 5-2 lead early in the quarter. Despite being taken out of the game, Scigliano received nothing but praise from veteran goalie and teammate Mike Poulin.

“It wasn’t fair to 92 tonight because he was playing great,” said Poulin. “They were hitting good shots, we were giving them good opportunities.”

Coach Malawsky praised both of his netminders after the game.

“Frankie gave us good minutes,” said Malawsky. “And Poulin came in and gave us great minutes.”

Georgia kept the putting on the pressure with a power play marker from Mitch Belisle and Jackson’s hat trick goal to elevate their lead to 7-2. The Riggers finally got one back off the stick of Digby for his second of night cutting Georgia’s lead to 7-3. Less than a minute later it was the Swarm’s Jesse King with his 5th goal in as many games to put Georgia up 8-3 heading into the half. Georgia led the shot totals, 29-21. Swarm assistant coach Sean Ferris was very pleased with his team’s first half effort.

“You come in and you get the legs from the night before so you usually get a quick start and we actually got the quick start tonight,” said Ferris.

Coach Malawsky understood the slow start, but said there was no excuses.

“We had a long travel day, there’s no excuses,” Malawsky said. “But the guys just weren’t moving their feet.”

Kiel Matisz joined in the fun as he kept the good times rolling for the Swarm, rifling one for his fifth of the season to put his team up 9-3. Georgia continued to work the ball around as Calgary was limited to just 3 shots almost halfway through the third. The Roughnecks looked like they were hitting their stride with three goals in just over a minute from Dickson, Dane Dobbie, and Digby’s hat trick to cut Georgia’s lead to 9-6. Powless potted his second of the night 50 seconds later to bring Georgia’s lead back to four goals at 10-6.

Dickson then completed the hat trick with a diving effort over the crease to bring the score to 10-7. Dan MacRae and Digby kept the momentum alive with a couple of goals in under a minute to bring the hometown team within one of Georgia heading into the final frame, 10-9. Calgary took a lead in the shot department with a 42-40 edge over the Swarm, much to the delight of Coach Malawsky.

“It’s a testament to their character,” he said. “The that we have on the offensive end to be able to stay resilient.

The Riggers continued to come back as Dickson scored his 4th of the night by Swarm goalie Brodie MacDonald to bring the game even at 10 apiece. Staats restored Georgia’s lead, sneaking one past Mike Poulin. Lyle Thompson looked give the Swarm a 2 goal lead, but a crease violation disallowed the goal keeping the score at 11-10 for Georgia. Digby continued his scoring ways, tying the game with a laser from the slot. Greg Harnett scored his second goal of the season on a breakaway to give the Roughnecks the 12-11 lead with under three minutes to play. After the game, Malawsky praised the compete level of Harnett.

“He’s a leader on this team because he’s a warrior,” Malawsky said. “He exemplifies what the Roughnecks are all about.”

After the game, Harnett was asked if he was feeling like superhero after scoring the game-winner.

“No,” Harnett laughed. “I’m just happy to help the team win.”

That goal would solidify the comeback as Mike Poulin stopped a furious last-second attempt from the Swarm’s Lyle Thompson who broke in near the buzzer but was denied. Assistant coach Ferris was agitated after the game.

“A loss is a loss in this league,” Ferris said. “We had the jump out on them tonight but they finished out strong, credit to them.”

Three Stars of the Game:

1) Curtis Dickson
2) Tyler Digby
3) Shayne Jackson

By Matt Fetinko for NLL.com. Photo by Candice Ward.