It was their best performance of the season, but unfortunately the same result for the Calgary Roughnecks.
The Roughnecks (1-4) gave the visiting Saskatchewan Rush (4-1) all they could handle in a 13-12 overtime loss in front of 11,196 fans at the Scotiabank Saddledome Saturday night.
The Rush appeared to have had the game on lockdown at halftime, leading 10-4. But the Roughnecks had other ideas, scoring six unanswered goals to tie the game early in the fourth quarter. The teams exchanged two more goals each in the fourth quarter before heading to the extra frame where the Rush potted the winner at 0:46.
“I think the one negative of the night was the outcome of the game,” said Roughnecks head coach Curt Malawsky. “When things were going a little sideways there, they stuck to the process, and that’s a testament to the guys in the room believing in each other and believing they can get the job done.”
Although the Roughnecks now drop to 1-5 on the season, Malawsky said there was a lot to like from this game, including the performance of goaltender Christian Del Bianco in his relief of Frank Scigliano. After Scigliano allowed the first five goals on 14 shots, Malawsky sent on Del Bianco, who struggled in the first half, allowing five goals on only 12 shots. But Malawsky stuck with him in the second half, which turned out to be a game-changing decision. “All we ask of our goaltenders is to give us a chance to win. We’re not saying you have to win us the game, but just give us a chance to win,” said Malawsky. “It’s not so much what Frank (Scigliano) didn’t do, but we thought Christian (Del Bianco) could throw a game down like that, and it’s just unfortunate we didn’t get the outcome.” Del Bianco finished the night with 29 saves on 37 shots, while Rush goaltender Evan Kirk ended with 49 saves on 61 shots-on-goal, helping his team improve to 5-1 on the season.
The one Roughnecks player who gave Kirk the most trouble was Dane Dobbie. Dobbie led the Roughnecks with seven points (two goals, five assists), which included the game-tying goal with 59 seconds remaining in regulation.
Although the Roughnecks doubled their goal total from the first half in the second half, Dobbie said they didn’t make any major adjustments at halftime. “We didn’t need to do much different. We came into the half tied in shots, and we just weren’t burying our chances,” said Dobbie. “In the third and fourth quarter, we said we were just going to keep working, keep grinding, and next thing you know we got a couple saves and we’re putting the ball in the net.”
Despite the hard-to-swallow loss, Dobbie walked off the floor as the new all-time franchise leader in points for the Roughnecks, beating the previous record of 684 points set by Jeff Shattler. “It’s pretty cool. It really is,” said Dobbie. “It’s been pretty cool to be able to stay in one spot. My family moved here, I have a kid here, and I consider this place home now.”
Coincidentally, the man who’s record Dobbie broke, Shattler, was wearing the Rush black and green, and playing in the Saddledome for the first time as a visitor. Shattler and Dobbie were teammates for 10 seasons before Shattler’s departure this past off-season, and he said his record couldn’t have been broken by a more deserving player. “I’m very proud of him. He deserves it. He’s a very heart-and-soul kind of guy,” said Shattler. “I love the guy like a brother. We had a lot of great years together.”
In his return to Calgary as the opposition, Shattler finished with three points (two goals, one assist). He said it was a odd feeling coming into the building as the opponent, but said a lot of great memories came rushing back. “It was definitely different, but very exciting,” said Shattler. “A lot of memories shot through when I first got here, but it was nice come back and leave with the W.”