Even superstars like Dan Dawson and Tom Schreiber couldn’t stop the Calgary Roughnecks on Sunday afternoon as they picked up a 13-10 win over the Toronto Rock at Scotiabank Arena.
The Roughnecks were coming off a heartbreaking 13-12 loss to the Georgia Swarm while the Rock had been rolling in Alterna Cup play with a 9-8 win over the Saskatchewan Rush. The Roughnecks left the arena celebrating while the Rock were sent home humbled.
“It was a fantastic effort from front to back and that’s what you need to win in this league,” said Roughnecks’ forward Curtis Dickson. “We shot ourselves in the foot and put ourselves in that situation (last week). Anytime you can bounce back with a win over a quality team like Toronto is huge for our confidence.”
It was a win the Roughnecks needed to stay in the playoff race in the West Division, where they sit fourth with a 5-5 record. They still have an uphill battle before the end of the season.
“We’re looking to catch one of those top two spots,” Dickson said frankly. “It’s going to be a dogfight all the way through. It was important for us to get today’s win and get back to .500. We have to play all these games like they’re must wins.”
Dickson’s first of three put the Roughnecks up 3-1 with 4:56 left in the opening quarter. He was left alone behind Nick Rose’s net and easily converted Tyler Pace’s pass into a nice wraparound goal. The Rock rallied with transition goals from David Brock and Damon Edwards to tie the score at three after the first.
Toronto’s early 1-0 lead was their only lead of the game. A three-goal run from Calgary to start the second put them up 6-3. Dickson kicked things off, stepping around a defender and firing an underhand into the net. Dan Taylor and Mitch Wilde scored goals 14 seconds apart; both were allowed to get in alone on Rose by the Rock defense.
Dickson’s hat trick goal came as he checked Scott Dominey before grabbing a pass up the middle. Dominey was off-step and despite throwing himself at Dickson, wasn’t quite able to reach Superman in time.
“They made us look terrible on our mistakes,” said Rock captain Challen Rogers. “It was an uncharacteristic game for us. We had to match their desperation but we didn’t have the start that we wanted to and we just tried to battle back the whole game.”
The closest the Roughnecks let the Rock get was 8-7 after Josh Jubenville and Schreiber scored to close the gap. Schreiber had two in his return from a stint on the IR, his second a highlight-reel goal that came as he was falling to the turf in front of the goal. Dawson, who also returned from the IR, had three assists in the game to pass Josh Sanderson for second in NLL history.
Each team scored twice in the third, with Taylor picking up his second of the game and Pace scoring for the first time. Dickson nearly had a fourth goal in the period but a lengthy video review revealed his foot landed in the crease before the ball crossed the line. Calgary led 11-9 heading to the fourth.
Shane Simpson scored a pair of transition goals for the Roughnecks in the final frame. The Rock got one in transition from Dominey but Christian Del Bianco stoned the Rock’s offense in the final 15 minutes. He finished with 45 saves as the Roughnecks’ defense kept the Rock to the outside most of the night.
“Christian will be the first to tell you he didn’t have the greatest last couple of games but at his age it’s pretty outstanding what he’s able to and comeback and bounce back and play like he did today,” Dickson praised. “That’s the Christian we know and love and expect to see every weekend, lights out playing like the best goalie in the league.”
Dickson also praised the Roughnecks’ defense for keeping them in the game when their offense stalled.
“In the first half we did a good job of getting in and getting high quality looks at Rose, who is very good at stopping teams from the outside. He kinda shut the door on us in the second half. I think we had taken our foot off the gas but our defense stepped up and kept that lead for us.”
The Rock have little time to rest; they host the Buffalo Bandits at Scotiabank Centre this coming Friday, March 13th in another divisional matchup. Calgary hosts Saskatchewan the same night at Scotiabank Saddledome in a battle of the prairies and another Alterna Cup game.