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Split Decision: Rush Over Roughnecks In Ot, 12-11

The Saskatchewan Rush (5-3) worked overtime twice this weekend and earned a split with an incredible come-from-behind 12-11 OT road win over the Calgary Roughnecks (3-6) at Scotiabank Saddledome in front of 10,005 fans on Sunday. The win was the Rush’s third-straight win against the Riggers this season and fourth-straight overall dating back to last season’s West Division Finals.

The top scorers for Saskatchewan were Robert Church (3g, 3a), Curtis Knight (3g, 1a), and Mark Matthews (2g, 2a). Calgary saw the majority of their points come from Curtis Dickson (1g, 6a), Tyler Digby (3g, 3a), and Wesley Berg (3g, 2a).

The rookies for the Roughnecks set the tone early with a power play marker by Reilly OConnor less than a minute into the game. Wesley Berg found the back of the net halfway through the frame to give the Riggers a 2-0 lead. Tyler Digby followed up with a goal of his own to put the home team up 3-0. Rush veteran Zack Greer got his 18th of the season just before the end of the first to put the score at 3-1 heading into the second. Calgary held a slight edge on shots, 13-12.

Calgary continued their strong showing in second quarter, with Berg notching his second of the game 27 seconds in to put the Riggers ahead 4-1. Rookie defenceman scored his first career goal in his first career game for Calgary as he got the ‘Necks at a comfortable 5-1 lead. Rush leading scorer Mark Matthews rifled a power play goal to cut the lead to 5-2. The Roughnecks didn’t let up as Digby scored his second of the game less than a minute after to restore the 4 goal lead. Rigger’s alternate captain Karsen Leung scored a short-handed goal and veteran Jeff Shattler notched his 12th of the season to extend Calgary’s lead to 8-2. A couple quick goals by Robert Church and Curtis Knight brought Saskatchewan to within 4 of the Roughnecks heading into the half, 8-4. Despite only scoring 4 goals, the Rush led the shot totals 25-24 after the second.

The Rush scored their 3rd straight goal as Knight netted his 2nd of the game 38 seconds into the second half. Curtis “Superman” Dickson answered back after a nice pass from Greg Harnett to send him in on a breakaway. Chruch responded with a power play marker 2 minutes later to cut Calgary’s lead to 9-6. John LaFontaine scored his first of the season after a nice move in tight faked out Roughnecks goalie Mike Poulin to bring the Rush within 2. Church completed the hat-trick with 5 minutes left in the third off a nice diving effort to cut Calgary’s lead to 9-8 heading into the final quarter. Saskatchewan continued to set the pace in the shot category, leading 39-32 after three.

It was a hard-hitting start to the 4th with the western rivals playing physical and not allowing many good opportunities. The Riggers finally broke the seal with a sharp power play goal as Digby scored his hat-trick goal at the 7:57 mark of the final frame. Jeremy Thompson and Knight answered back for the Rush, scoring 13 seconds apart to tie the game at 10 goals apiece with under 5 minutes to play. Matthews gave Saskatchewan their first lead of the game, shoveling one past Poulin to give his team an 11-10 lead. Calgary answered back 40 seconds later as Berg netted his hat-trick goal to tie the game with 1:30 left, sending the game into overtime. Shots were 54-41 in favour of Saskatchewan.

After a dramatic overtime, it was Greer who finally found the back of the net as Saskatchewan defeated the Roughnecks, 12-11.

Three Stars of the Game:

1) Robert Church
2) Curtis Dickson
3) Jeremy Thompson

By Matt Fetinko for NLL.com. Photo by Candice Ward.