The Calgary Roughnecks edged the Vancouver Stealth 13-12 in front of 9,506 fans at the Roughnecks Holiday Party Showcase on Sunday afternoon at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
Tyler Digby led the Roughnecks attack with a five-goal effort while Curtis Dickson, with a pair of markers, Dan MacRae, Curtis Manning, Dane Dobbie, Karsen Leung, Jeff Shattler and rookie Wesley Berg all found the back of the net.
Vancouver forwards Joel McCready, with four goals and one assist, and Keegan Bal, with three goals and two helpers, each recorded five points with Rhys Duch (2), Cliff Smith, Corey Small and Brier Jonathan rounding out the scoring for the visitors.
It was one last tune-up for both teams before the regular season begins in early January. Eric Penney started in net for the Stealth, while Frank Scigliano got the call for the Roughnecks.
After Calgary killed off an early penalty, Tyler Digby scored the opening goal in his first game against his former club. After a number of penalties were handed out, the Stealth responded with a 4 on 3 power play goal from Corey Small. With less than five minutes left in the first quarter, Calgary would regain their lead on a power play of their own with a goal from Wesley Berg. In the dying minutes, Rhys Duch tied the game at 2-2 with a quick shot from the left side that beat Scigliano below the right arm. That is how the quarter would end, with the Stealth holding the shot advantage over the Roughnecks 11-9.
In the opening minute of the second quarter, Digby scored his second of the game to give the home team a 3-2 advantage. The back and forth play continued with Joel McCready scoring on a beautiful one on one move on Scigliano. The refs initially waved it off, but after review it was a ruled a good goal. Less than a minute later, Cliff Smith gave the Stealth their first lead of the game with his first of the afternoon. The Stealth padded their lead to 5-3 with another goal from Joel McCready, who worked his way to the net and fired it past the Calgary goaltender. The two-goal cushion was short lived though, as Dane Dobbie made it a 5-4 game shortly after. At the 12 minute mark of the frame, Rhys Duch made a nice move in tight of the Calgary net and scored his second of the game to make it 6-4 Vancouver. With just over a minute left in the first half, Jeff Shattler made no mistake on a perfect cross seam pass to cut the ‘Necks deficit to one goal. The Stealth’s four goal second quarter was enough to give them a 6-5 lead heading into the locker room after 30 minutes. Calgary had the shot lead 25-20.
To begin the third quarter, Eric Penney stayed in net for the Stealth, while the Roughnecks put in Mike Poulin. The Stealth opened up the scoring in the second half courtesy of Keegan Bal, who let go of a quick shot in tight of the net and beat Poulin over the left arm. On the Stealth’s next possession, Joel McCready capped off the hat-trick, as he rifled a shot between the legs of the goalie to give the Stealth their largest lead of the game at 8-5. With 6:18 to play, Dan MacRae brought the Roughnecks to within two, as he finished off a nice pass from Dobbie out of the right corner. The Stealth got that goal right back with a power play goal from Keegan Bal, who picked the top corner for his second of the quarter. On the ensuing face off, Digby raced down the floor and scored his hat-trick goal to make it a 9-7 score. With just over two minutes left in the quarter, Brier Jonathan scored his first of the game with quick release in transition that beat Poulin five-hole. However, Digby scored immediately after for the Roughnecks to bring the score to 10-8. After three quarters, the Stealth led the shot count 37-30.
The Roughnecks got off to a good start in the final quarter with an early shorthanded goal from Curtis Manning. Less than 30 seconds later, Joel McCready buried his fourth of the game with a pin point shot on the power play that beat Christian Del Bianco , who started the fourth quarter for Calgary. After Karsen Leung and Digby scored consecutive goals for the ‘Riggers, the Stealth got their lead back thanks to Keegan Bal. The Burnaby native was the beneficiary of a long stretch pass from Matt Beers to go in all alone on a breakaway and buried his third of the contest and made it 12-11. During a Roughnecks power play, Curtis Dickson scored his first of the game with a shot that beat Penney between the legs and tied it up at 12 a side. Soon after, Dickson scored an almost identical goal with just over four minutes to play on another Calgary power play to give the home team their first lead since the first half. The Stealth could not find the equalizer with the goaltender pulled and fell to the Roughnecks 13-12.
It was an entertaining battle from start to finish between the bitter rivals. Joel McCready and Keegan Bal led the way offensively combining for seven of the Stealth’s 12 goals, while Penney played the entire game in between the pipes.
The regular season will be a good battle all year between the two teams, who play each other a total of four times, with the first match-up coming on January 30 in Calgary. The 2016 season begins for the Stealth on January 9 when they welcome the New England Black Wolves to the Langley Events Centre at 10 p.m. ET.
Calgary opens the 2016 NLL regular season at home against the defending champion Saskatchewan Rush on Saturday, Jan. 2 at 10 p.m. ET at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
Photo by Candice Ward.