After being on the losing end in two consecutive games, there is nothing like beating up on your archrival to return some confidence to your club.
The Calgary Roughnecks did it twice this weekend, defeating the Edmonton Rush 15-11 on Friday and 12-11 in overtime on Saturday to sweep the weekend home-and-home series.
Coming into the Battle of Alberta, Calgary had lost their two previous games while Edmonton was winless in their first three contests of the season. After the weekend, Calgary (4-2) closed the gap for first place in the Western Division while Edmonton (0-5) stayed solidly in the basement in the West.
The Rush were embarrassed in their home opener on Friday, as the Roughnecks took advantage of what looked like, at times, a confused Edmonton squad in the first half. Calgary held an 11-6 lead at halftime.
Corey Small scored three goals in the second half to get Edmonton back in the game, but the Rush defense couldn’t hold their own on their side of the field, as the deficit proved to be too much for Edmonton to come back from.
“It was the will to win and they had more than we did,” said Edmonton head coach Derek Keenan after Friday’s game. “We’ve got to get our noses to the turf and get dirty and start competing out there.”
Luckily for Keenan and his team, they didn’t have to wait long to get back on the floor as they looked to embarrass the Roughnecks in their own building the next night.
The Rush came out much stronger on Saturday than they did the night prior, scoring four first quarter goals, and were only down by one at halftime. Edmonton scored four times in the third quarter with Gavin Prout picking up two goals in the period, giving the Rush a 10-9 lead after 45 minutes of play.
However, Edmonton couldn’t take full advantage of a five-minute major spearing penalty by Calgary’s Dayne Michaud with 1:31 left in the third stanza. The Rush’s Ryan Ward did score his fourth goal of the game 38 seconds into the fourth quarter on the power play chance, but that would be the last goal Edmonton would get in the game.
The Rush also had a 5-on-3 power play sandwiched inside of the major penalty, but Mike Poulin stepped up his game in net and played solid for Calgary during the penalty kill. Edmonton finished the game 1-for-6 on the power play.
19 seconds after the Calgary’s penalties expired, Jeff Shattler struck to make it a one-goal contest with over 10 minutes left in the game.
“It was a great momentum swing when we stopped them on one end and scored on the other for a couple,” said Poulin, who finished with 44 saves on 55 shots.
With 4:05 remaining, Curtis Dickson completed his second straight hat trick for Calgary, and in the process tied the game at 11. Dickson’s six-goal performance over the weekend against Edmonton moves him into second in the NLL for goals scored by a rookie with 10. Rochester’s Cody Jamieson leads with 12 goals.
The game stayed tied at the end of regulation, setting the stage for the unlikeliest of heroes to end it for the Roughnecks.
Mark Scherman didn’t even make the final roster for the Roughnecks out of training camp, but after being a late addition a few days before the season, he became the hero on Saturday night. Scherman beat Edmonton goaltender Matt Disher 2:30 into overtime to give Calgary the win and the weekend sweep.
“Alberta boy, Calgary kid, and he gets the game winner,” said Roughnecks head coach Dave Pym of Scherman. “It was fantastic for him and even better for the team.”
The victory gives Calgary a stable second place position in the Western Division with four wins in six games.
Though the Roughnecks have one more win than the division-leading Minnesota Swarm, Minnesota has played two less games then Calgary and has a better overall winning percentage.
Calgary and Minnesota will play twice this season, as they’ll meet in a home-and-home series on April 1-2.
Calgary and Edmonton will have a bye next weekend, giving both teams plenty of time to rest their players and prepare for their upcoming opponents. Edmonton’s next game will be against Washington on Feb. 11 while Calgary will take on Toronto on Feb. 12.
The Rush and the Roughnecks will meet up two more times this season, on Feb. 20 in Edmonton and Mar. 19 in Calgary.
Here is a look at the other six NLL games from this past weekend.
Boston continues to fall as Philly gets big road win
The Boston Blazers continued their fall in the NLL Eastern Division after losing 11-5 to the Philadelphia Wings on Friday night at TD Garden in Boston.
Athan Iannucci led Philadelphia in scoring with four goals and two assists while Alex Turner also had a good night for the Wings, tallying three goals and two assists. Dan Dawson finished with two goals and three assists for Boston.
The first half featured close play by both teams, but it was the Wings that had the 5-3 lead at the half, thanks in part to a penalty shot goal by Iannucci and a power play goal by Turner in the second quarter.
Philadelphia scored five goals in the third quarter to help the Wings extend their lead and run away with their second straight win.
“I think we came out with a lot of energy and play, certainly our most consistent 60 minutes of the year,” said Wings head coach John Tucker. “I like our team and we worked hard.”
Goaltender Brandon Miller played great in net for the Wings, making 43 saves and shutting out Boston for the final 22:26.
Both teams played the next night as well, with Philadelphia hosting Colorado while Boston traveled to Rochester.
Wings get third straight victory with home win against the Mammoth
The Philadelphia Wings earned their third win in a row as they defeated the Colorado Mammoth 12-11 on Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
Philadelphia (3-2) led 10-4 at halftime, but Colorado (1-3) battled back with four goals in the third quarter while also keeping the Wings scoreless in the stanza.
The Wings scored two straight goals in the fourth quarter to take a 12-8 lead, but Colorado once again went on a run, scoring three goals in the fourth to make it a one goal affair with 2:27 left.
Late in the fourth quarter, it looked like the Mammoth had tied the game, but John Grant Jr. was called for a crease violation during the goal, keeping the Wings ahead for the final few ticks.
“I thought we played very well in the first half,” said Philadelphia head coach John Tucker. “It was kind of a poor strategy from my end. We started to take our foot off the gas and gave Colorado some life and to their credit, they fought hard. We allowed them back into the game and it was a dog fight to the end and we hung on there for sure.”
Athan Iannucci and Drew Westervelt both finished with three goals for the Wings while Alex Gajic led the Mammoth in scoring with three goals of his own. Colorado’s Brian Langtry, Cliff Smith and Grant finished with two goals apiece as well.
After defeating Colorado last Saturday and beating up Boston on Friday, the Wings have now won three games in a matter of eight days and sit in second place in the Eastern Division.
Next Saturday, Colorado returns home to play Washington while Philadelphia will head to Rochester to take on the Knighthawks in a matinee game.
Blazers end three game slide with win in Rochester
The Boston Blazers ended a three-game losing streak and returned their record back to .500 on Saturday with a 16-7 victory over the Rochester Knighthawks at the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, N.Y.
Boston (3-3) jumped out early with three goals in the first six minutes of the game, and they never released their foot from the throttle in the half, taking an 11-4 lead at the intermission.
In the second half, the Blazers offense scored five goals, and their defense continued their solid play as they only allowed the Knighthawks to score three times in the final 30 minutes.
“This was atrocious and it’s not acceptable,” said Rochester head coach Mike Hasen after the game. “We were bad everywhere on the floor tonight.”
Dan Dawson and Casey Powell both finished with four goals for Boston while teammate Ryan Dilks scored three times. Blazers goaltender Anthony Cosmo make 35 saves on 42 shots.
Rookie Cody Jamieson led Rochester (2-2) in the contest with four goals, and now leads all rookies in the NLL in goals with 12.
The Knighthawks will look to bounce back as they’ll host the Philadelphia Wings at 2 p.m. EST next Saturday while the Blazers will host the Toronto Rock later that night.
Swarm take season series with OT win over the defending champs
If the Minnesota Swarm and the Washington Stealth are tied in the Western Division standings at the end of the year, it will be the Swarm that will have the edge over the defending NLL champions.
Minnesota took the season series with an 11-10 overtime victory against Washington on Saturday at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.
Ryan Benesch scored the game-winning goal 2:13 into overtime to end Minnesota’s six-game overtime losing streak and keep the Swarm in first place in the Western Division.
“It’s great to get that win,” said Minnesota head coach Mike Lines. “We went into overtime shorthanded, but we fought through it. It was obviously frustrating, but that win felt great.”
The Stealth (2-3) were looking to even up the season series at one after being embarrassed 16-8 at home against Minnesota (3-1) in Week 2. Instead, it was the Swarm that earned another victory—their third in a row.
Benesch finished with three goals and two assists in the game and is now second among Western Division players in goals with 13 and third in the division in points with 26.
Minnesota’s Aaron Wilson, Zack Greer and Callum Crawford also finished with solid nights on the scoresheet, picking up two goals each, while Tom Johnson and Paul Rabil both scored three goals for Washington.
The Stealth and the Swarm will meet for the final time in the regular season on Apr. 9 in Everett, Wash.
Minnesota will travel to Buffalo to play the Bandits next Friday while Washington will head to Colorado to take on the Mammoth on Saturday.
Rock top Bandits in physical game
The 10,812 fans in attendance at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto might not have seen a lot of goals scored, but they sure got their money’s worth in terms of physical play.
In a defensive game on Saturday, the Toronto Rock and the Buffalo Bandits combined for 156 penalty minutes, but it was the Rock’s solid offense and steady defense throughout the night that helped them pick up the 8-5 victory.
Toronto goaltender Bob Watson made 37 saves in the first three quarters, holding the Bandits to one first period goal while playing shutout lacrosse in the second and third quarters. Watson finished with 50 saves overall.
Buffalo finally woke up in the fourth quarter with four goals, but Colin Doyle led the Toronto charge with two goals in the stanza, keeping the Rock’s lead intact. Doyle finished with four goals in the contest.
“We’re not going to win any game against Toronto scoring five goals,” said Buffalo head coach Darris Kilgour after the game. “We had 55 shots and scored five goals on them. I don’t know what kind of shooting percentage that is, but it’s got to be absolutely terrible.”
46 total penalties were called in the game that featured a rematch from last week's game, which Buffalo won in overtime. These two teams were also featured in a preseason brawl that resulted in the discipline of 32 players.
Even with all of those power play chances, Buffalo went 2-for-11 with the extra attacker while Toronto went 0-for-8.
Next weekend, the Bandits will host the Minnesota Swarm at HSBC Arena on Friday while the Rock will travel to Boston to face the Blazers at TD Garden on Saturday.
Buffalo and Toronto will meet again in the rubber match game to decide the season series on Apr. 8 in Toronto.