The luck of the Irish was with the Calgary Roughnecks Saturday night.
After failing to score more than seven goals in their previous two games, the Roughnecks offense rebounded for 14 goals, leading to a 14-13 triumph over the Rochester Knighthawks in front of 15,070 at the Scotiabank Saddledome on St. Patrick’s Day.
The victory snaps the Roughnecks two-game losing streak, while also putting an end to the Knighthawks’ four-game winning streak.
The Roughnecks appeared to have had the game in hand halfway through the fourth quarter with a 14-9 lead, but the Knighthawks came storming back to within one goal, before ultimately running out of time.
“For 53 minutes of that game, we were outstanding,” said Roughnecks head coach Curt Malawsky.
“The message is we took the foot off the gas a bit, then took a couple penalties late in the fourth quarter, and they were able to capitalize and get things a bit tighter. There were just a couple situational plays we’re going to make sure we correct.”
The Roughnecks opened up a 4-2 lead after one quarter of play, and stretched that lead to 10-5 at the half. The halftime pep talk failed to alter the play of the Knighthawks in the second half as the Roughnecks picked up right where they left off in the first half, eventually taking a 12-7 lead into the final quarter of the play.
While the Roughnecks weren’t sharp on the short man, killing off just one of five Knighthawks power plays, their own power play more than made up for it, finding the back of the net on five of six attempts.
Malawsky said inconsistent special teams play has been an issue over the past few games, so it was good to see the power play find its footing.
“We just made some personnel changes, just moved guys around to different positions, and that seemed to really work,” said Malawsky.
“We worked on our power play pretty hard this week, so kudos to our guys for executing.”
One of the big contributors to the success of the power play was forward Wesley Berg. He finished with five points (three goals, two assists) with the man advantage, while also adding another three even-strength points to lead the team in overall scoring.
Berg said his individual success stems from the offense playing more as a team and moving the ball around, rather than trying to succeed individually.
“The biggest difference from winning and losing lately is the way we play as an offensive unit,” said Berg.
“When we play together, we get the result we want. When we try to do a bit too much, we end up going stagnant, and don’t get the same looks.”
Berg and the Roughnecks will look to begin building another win streak when the Toronto Rock visit the Saddledome next Saturday.
After beating them in their home arena last game, Berg said he expects they’ll be hungry and looking for revenge.
“They play with a lot of speed and they have a lot of talent, so we need to come out with the same mentality as we did tonight,” said Berg.
“It’s not really about what they do, it’s about what we do offensively, and sticking to our game plan.”
Knighthawks forward Kyle Jackson led his team in scoring with seven points (three goals, four assists), further building on his already impressive season.
He said it’s a tough loss to swallow for the team, but said that’s what happens when you give up as many goals as they did early on.
“It’s a tough loss. We spotted them too many goals early in the first half, and that’s ultimately what hurt us in the end,” said Jackson.
“You can’t start off that way and still win games in this league. It’s not going to happen.”
- Wesley Berg (CGY)
- Austin Shanks (ROC)
- Garrett McIntosh (CGY)