By Jeremy Pike | NLL.com Staff Writer
Photo Micheline Veluvolu
The Calgary Roughnecks (6-9) defeated the Rochester Knighthawks (5-9) 11-9 Saturday night at the Blue Cross Arena in front of 6,824 fans.
Dane Dobbie led all scorers with six points (3+3), but it was Curtis Dickson who stole the headlines as he notched his 300th NLL goal versus Rochester during a four-point night (3+1).
“It’s pretty cool, it’s pretty cool,” said Dickson. “Dobes (Dobbie) did it earlier this year. It’s fairly elite company. That’s something you’ll be able to look back on and be proud of. But, to sound cliché, we’re worried about getting wins, and that’s the most important thing tonight.”
“My personal opinion, I think he’s the best player in the NLL,” said Roughnecks head coach Curt Malawsky. “That’s my opinion as a coach. We have conversations about that. We have him as part of our leadership group. He’s taken that personally. He’s not a hard guy, he’s a leader. That’s the biggest thing. That’s what I look at. Everyone wants to look at his goals and his stats. The guy’s a 60-goal man. He’s not a one-dimensional 60-goal scorer. . . He’s a good all-around guy. He’s making guys better.”
While it is no surprise that players like Dobbie and Dickson would produce, teams need secondary scoring. Calgary got that tonight from Riley Loewen, who had 20 points coming into the game and had himself a five-point game (3+2).
“Dobes and Dickson, those guys are our backbone,” Malawsky said. “Those guys are a huge part of our offense. Then you add in Bergy (Wes Berg), he’s really stepping up this year as a second-year guy, but when you get a so-called complimentary player like Riley who can contribute one or two, let alone putting in three and getting a bunch of loose balls, having two assists, and drew a bunch of penalties. That’s the way he can play. We’ve instilled that he’s got a green light to attack the net. He’s a big, strong, athletic guy that can drag guys to the net with the ball. . . Kudos to him, I thought he had an exceptional game. He was a huge part of us getting going early.”
While the visiting locker room was in full celebration as the Roughnecks kept pace in a tight race for the third and final playoff spot in the West, the home locker room was much quieter as Rochester failed to capitalize on the Buffalo Bandits’ loss that would have let Rochester move up to fourth and within reach of the third spot in the East.
“We put ourselves in a bit of a hole there,” said Knighthawks head coach Mike Hasen about the early deficit. “We were shorthanded an awful lot, which doesn’t help. . . It just wasn’t there tonight. We battled as hard as we could, and tonight is what it was.”
““When we look back at the tape, I think we’re going to see that was a winnable game,” said Rochester goalie Matt Vinc. “We got a little bit in penalty trouble, and it’s tough to climb back. We were missing a couple of key players in the lineup tonight. I think we just struggled to really get going.”
“We knew what was at stake,” said Knighthawks forward Joe Resetarits. “We came out flat. I don’t think we played how we know we can play. That’s unacceptable. We knew what was at stake, we knew this was going to be a tough game. Every game is going to be tough for us.
One of the most important players for Rochester was unavailable as forward Dan Dawson served a one-game suspension stemming from an incident during their game against the New England Black Wolves back on March 17.
“It’s tough,” Resetarits said. “You’ve got one of the best players to ever play the game not in the lineup with you. He’s our leader, he’s another coach out there. He’s a coach on the floor basically. Having him just settled everything down. It’s a big thing not having a guy like that in the lineup, but other guys have to come and step up. That’s how this game is. A guy gets a shot, they’ve got to come in and fill the void for him. He definitely would’ve helped out a lot tonight. That would’ve been a different game if Dan was in the lineup, but it is what it is. We needed to step up for him.”
“We’re full of rookies,” Hasen said. “We know that, everybody knows that. When your long-time leader is sitting and watching on a night like this, we could have really used him tonight. But it doesn’t just fall on one person. We have to take ownership for the guys who were on the floor. We didn’t get it done tonight, it’s as simple as that.”
To dismiss the score as simply a a problem of missing Dawson would only be painting part of the picture. While goal scorers on Calgary did damage, the final score was only 11-8. Frankie Scigliano and Matt Vinc both put on a show as the Knighthawks out-shot Calgary 46-42.
“He was the player of the game in my mind,” Malawsky said about Scigliano. “It’s not how many you make, I’ve always said it’s when you make them. I’m not worried about save percentage. They had a couple of great chances, and some of the goals they scored were just rebound chances after he made the initial save. He kept the stick down and he stepped into the ball. He played it honestly. He knows and he’d be the first to say that an honest effort gets an honest result. I think he was definitely the player of the game for us.”
The Roughnecks return home to take on the Buffalo Bandits Saturday April 8 at 9:00p.m. ET. The Knighthawks get a bye week, then return to action Saturday April 15 as they travel west to take on the Colorado Mammoth at 9:00p.m. ET.