Battle of the Best

Story by Tom Frank
Photos by Marcelo Saguez

Roughnecks Top Rock For First 

Scotiabank Saddledome – The West Division leading Calgary Roughnecks (8-3) defeated the East Division leading Toronto Rock (9-2) 14-9 to the delight of the 10,705 supportive fans in attendance. Both teams now spot identical 9-3 records, but the Riggers take top spot in the league based on the NLL’s tiebreaker format.

The action started quickly. Calgary had two breakaway attempts early by Jon Harnett and Geoff Snider, but Bob Watson stood his ground. Toronto then had an opportunity with a wide open net. Mike Poulin managed to make the save by swinging out his stick hand. Third time lucky for the Roughnecks as Jeff Shattler intercepted a pass high in the defensive zone and scored on the breakaway to make it 1-0 for the hosts. All that within the first 4 minutes of the opening quarter.

It’s the type of game you’d expect from the top two teams in the league. Good goaltending, fast-paced offence and hard –hitting defence. The difference on this occasion was specialty teams.

With the score tied at 2, Calgary was fighting off their second penalty at 10:19 of the first quarter. The Rock had several good scoring attempts, but with 11 seconds remaining in the penalty, the Riggers’ Daryl Veltman scored, short-handed, to go up by one. Eight seconds later, Shattler scored off the draw to make it 4-2 Calgary.

Blaine Manning and Garrett Billings managed to get Toronto back on even terms early in the second quarter. Their momentum was slowed when Stephan Hoar received a 5 minute major for cross-checking. Within two minutes, Calgary’s powerplay opportunity turned into a 4-on-3 advantage for Toronto as the Carnegie brothers, Mike and Scott, received minor penalties. The Roughnecks killed off their penalties, and with nine seconds remaining on the major, Dane Dobbie scored for the go ahead goal. Calgary would have a brief 5-on-3 advantage with Jeff Gilbert going off for roughing. Dobbie scored his second powerplay goal 55 seconds later.

Curtis Dickson gave the Riggers a two goal lead (7-5) scoring a hilight reel goal from behind the net with 28.9 seconds remaining in the half.

Toronto was unable to penetrate Calgary’s tough defence and Poulin blocked many of the outside shots fired his way.

The third quarter would see the Roughnecks score two more goals with the man-advantage to the Rock’s one. There was exciting play up and down the floor. Calgary had the lead 10-7 going into the final frame.

Both goalies performed very well in the fourth quarter. Toronto tried pulling Watson several times in the remaining four minutes of the game, but Calgary took advantage scoring once while he just returned to his net and the other into the empty net.

The Rock were outscored in the final segment four goals to two. The final score 14-9 for the Roughnecks.

Poulin finished the game stopping 41 of 50 shots while Watson managed 39 saves on 53 shots.

Calgary’s PP unit finished 4 for 6. Edmonton 2 for 7.

Calgary: Dobbie (4,3), Shattler (3,4), Dickson (3,1), Veltman (2,1)
Toronto: Colin Doyle (3, 2), Stephan LeBlanc (1,5), Manning (1,4), Casey Beirns (1-3)

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