Rookie Wesley Berg scored six goals including the game-winner as the Calgary Roughnecks (8-10) closed out the regular season with a win over the Toronto Rock (5-13) 18-17 in overtime in front of 15,980 fans at the Scotiabank Saddledome. The win was the highest-scoring game of the year for the Roughnecks with the teams combining for 35 goals.
The top scorers for the Riggers were Wesley Berg (6g, 1a), Curtis Dickson (4g, 3a) and Jeff Shattler (4g, 3a). While Rob Hellyer (7g, 6a), Turner Evans (4g, 5a) and Kasey Beirnes (3g, 4a) put up the most points for the Rock. Dickson was proud of his teammate Berg, praising the rookie’s play.
“Once you play your first game in this league, you’re not a rookie anymore,” he said. “You can tell by the way he plays, he doesn’t play like a rookie.”
Calgary opened Fan Appreciation Night with an early goal from rookie forward Wesley Berg. Peter McFetridge made it a 2-0 game scoring his first goal of the season. Toronto answered back with Rob Hellyer to cut the lead in half. Karsen Leung and Hellyer traded a pair of goals just 16 seconds apart as Calgary continued to lead 3-2. The Rock’s leading goal scorer tied the game as Hellyer netted his hat-trick goal, followed by rookie Turner Evans’s 9th of the year to give Toronto a 4-3 lead. The Riggers were able to tie the game before the end of the quarter with Jeff Shattler’s 27th of the season as the game was tied 4-4 after the first quarter. Calgary head coach Curt Malawsky liked the pushback his team gave.
“Whenever we were challenged and we had some adversity we came around and we battled,” he said.
Shots were 14-11 in favor of Calgary.
Shattler wasted little time in the second frame as he rifled one in the back of the net just 39 seconds in to give Calgary the lead, 5-4. Hellyer continued his monster night with his fourth goal to tie the game on the power play. Rock head coach John Lovell explained how important Hellyer is to his team.
“Robbie’s a big part of our success,” Lovell said. “I think he had a slow start to his season or he’d be challenging the guys right at the top for the scoring title.”
The next goal didn’t come for almost five minutes when Toronto took the lead back with Evans’ second of the game. That lead was extended to 7-5 as Evans’ notched his hat-trick goal just over a minute later. Toronto got their fourth straight goal of the stick of Kasey Beirnes to take an 8-5 lead. Despite not being in the playoff picture, Lovell loved seeing his team compete as if they were.
“Tonight, we were outstanding.” Said Lovell. “We still battle like we’re going somewhere.”
Shattler looked to get one back while short-handed, the goal was reviewed and ultimately stood as the Riggers cut the lead to 8-6. With a couple seconds left in the half Curtis “Superman” Dickson looked to score his first of the game but that goal was overturned with the Rock leading the Roughnecks 8-6 after two. Toronto held a slight edge in shots, 27-26.
The Roughnecks started off the second half strong with a pair of goals from Berg and Shattler to tie the game 8-8. A great individual effort from Hellyer put Toronto back on top 9-8. Berg continued his hot night with his third and fourth goals to push Calgary ahead 10-9. Berg praised the play of his rookie teammates, saying he knows what their place are on a young Roughnecks team.
“I feel like none of us are rookies anymore,” Berg said. “We play a big part on this team and we’ve got to contribute for us to be successful.”
The teams continued trading goals as Beirnes put home his second of the game to tie it at 10 goals apiece. The Riggers retook the lead with Dickson’s first of the night. Garrett McIntosh sniped one on a breakaway to give Calgary a 12-10 lead before barreling over Toronto goalie Nick Rose. Referees had to pull players off of each other as a line brawl was sparking but held the teams to one fight; Rose stayed in the game. After the wreckage it went to 4-on-4 and the Roughnecks were able to capitalize as Dickson finished off a nice passing play to put his team up 13-10 going into the final frame. Calgary led the shots 41-38.
Toronto struck early as Evans scored just 24 seconds into the fourth quarter to cut the Roughnecks lead to 13-11. Berg responded with a beautiful move to restore the Riggers’ three goal lead. Dan Lintner got that one back just ten seconds later followed by Jesse Gamble’s first of the game to cut Calgary’s lead to 14-13. Superman got one back with his hat-trick goal to give him 60 on the season, a new Roughnecks franchise record. Malawsky said despite the game not having any effect on the standings, there was no way Dickson wouldn’t see the floor in the critical times of the game.
“If I had sat Dickson late in the game or in overtime, I would’ve heard about it,” he laughed. “He’s a competitor, he’s a gamer.”
The celebration was short-lived as Beirnes and Hellyer each scored to tie the game at 15-15. Calgary re-took the lead with Dickson and Tyler Digby combining for another couple of goals as the Rigger went up 17-15. Kyle Aquin scored his first career goal in just his second game as the Rock cut the lead to 17-16. Toronto tied the game as Hellyer put away his game-high seventh goal, sending the game to overtime.
Calgary had a power play heading into the extra frame but couldn’t take advantage of it. After a good pass by Reilly O’Connor, Berg found himself all alone in front of the net and scored to give Calgary the 18-17 win. Malawsky said it was good to finally get that overtime win after going 0-4 in the extra frame so far this season, and that his team would be ready for their first round matchup against Colorado.
“It was good for us to get that, it was a good confidence booster,” he explained. “Despite the game not meaning a lot, the guys might’ve hung their heads if we got beat for the fifth time in overtime. We’re going to go in firing on all cylinders in Denver next weekend.”
Three Stars of the Game:
1) Curtis Dickson
2) Wesley Berg
3) Rob Hellyer
Story by Matt Fetinko for NLL.com. Photo by Candice Ward.