Defending Champs Downed by Provincial Rival

 Edmonton wins franchises first playoff game

– story by Tom Frank
– photos by Marcelo Saguez

Calgary – The Pengrowth Saddledome served as the field for the “Battle of Alberta” in NLL West Division Semi-Final action Saturday afternoon. The Roughnecks and Edmonton Rush entered the match-up with identical 10-6 records to finish the season, however, Calgary earned the right to host by defeating the visitors 2 games to 1 in head-to-head action.

A combination of sloppy execution and shooting against a hot goalie, proved too much for Calgary to overcome this day. The hosts outshot Edmonton 66 to 37, but could only find the back of the net on 7 occasions. The Riggers directed many shots from the outside towards Rush goalie, Matt Disher, who stood up to the challenge. Calgary was thwarted on several attempts to get inside for better quality scoring opportunities.

Gavin Prout opened the scoring for the visitors on the power play with a shot from the slot. Edmonton’s power play connected on their second outing midway through the quarter, this time with Ryan Ward at the trigger. The Rush specialty teams were key in this affair as they finished the game a perfect 3 for 3 with the man advantage and no goals against while short-handed.

The Roughnecks fired a barrage of shots on their first attempt on the power play to end the quarter, but were not rewarded.

Like a pinball, Dane Dobbie, bounced off two defenders and fired a one-handed shot while falling to get Calgary on the board in the second. Scott Ranger got the Roughnecks within 1 goal finishing a nice criss-cross passing play 30 seconds later. Calgary played with a renewed energy in the quarter, playing very aggressively on loose balls. Edmonton kept plugging away and regained their 3-goal advantage to close out the half.

The teams matched goals again in the third quarter with 2 apiece. Calgary did not look sharp as they gave the ball away and missed passes. Tracey Kelusky scored with 3.3 seconds remaining, which gave his team momentum going into the final frame.

The Roughnecks came out hard again in the fourth, scoring right off the draw. Dobbie completed his hat-trick 40 seconds later and brought Calgary within 1 goal, 7-6. There was “thunder” in the Dome, as fans got up, stomping their feet, cheering for a comeback by their hometown heroes.

The slow start for Calgary proved to be the difference, as the Edmonton Rush went on to defeat the Roughnecks 11-7. The 10,388 fans in attendance, gave the Riggers a standing ovation for the final 40 seconds of play.

The Rush advance to the West Division Final in Washington next weekend to face off against the Stealth. The top-ranked Washington squad defeated the Minnesota Swarm 14-10 Saturday night.

Scoring for Calgary: Dobbie with the hat trick and singles from Ranger, Kelusky, Kaleb Toth and Nolan Heavenor. NLL scoring champion, Josh Sanderson, had 3 assists.

Leading the way for Edmonton was Dean Hill with the hat trick; 2 goals each for Prout, Corey Small and Andy Secore and singles from Ward and Jim Quinlan. Ward also collected 8 assists while Ryan Powell contributed with 4.

For more great action shots from this game as well as many other NLL pics, please check out the LITG on Facebook Photo’s Page

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