Christian Del Bianco and the Calgary Roughnecks weathered a 57-shot assault including 35 in the first half alone to battle back and defeat the Rochester Knighthawks 12-9 on Saturday at Blue Cross Arena. The visiting Roughnecks leaned on Curtis Dickson and Dane Dobbie as they scored five of the Riggers six second-half goals to secure the victory.
In a fast paced, transition-fueled first quarter, Rochester got just the start they were looking for as Brad Gillies, Graeme Hossack and Ryan Benesch staked the Knighthawks to an early 3-1 lead. Calgary would strike in transition late in the quarter, when Tyson Bell scooped a loose ball and went the length of the floor before tucking one top corner to pull Calgary within one.
Shortly into the second quarter, Calgary drew the game even when Curtis Dickson fired a shorthanded bomb from the restraining line. With the score tied up the two teams went back-and-forth with neither team taking more than a one-goal lead. Rochester was paced by the silky-smooth Kyle Jackson who netted a trio of goals in the second quarter alone.
The goal of the game came at the 8:31 mark of the quarter, when Zach Currier corralled a 130-foot bounce pass from Mitch Wilde and went behind the Rochester net and dunked the ball one-handed past Angus Goodleaf.
Entering the third quarter with a slim 7-6 lead, the Knighthawks again got a timely goal, this time from Luc Magnan. The rugged defender scooped up the ball from the opening faceoff and scored just 13 seconds in. Despite an 8-6 lead and having the momentum in front of the home crowd, the wheels would fall off on the Knighthawks as they would go on to be outscored 6-1 o drop their eighth-straight game.
In the loss, the Knighthawks still showed that they have elite players upon which to build the future around. Jake Withers looked virtually unbeatable at the faceoff dot, going 21 for 25 and also scooping 15 loose balls. Hossack delivered another all-world performance with 12 LB’s, two caused turnovers and a goal and two assists. Up front, Kyle Jackson led the attack with three goals and an assist while veteran Cody Jamieson tallied once and added two assists.
“We just have to keep learning from our mistakes,” Hossack said in a Knighthawks’ press release. “We have a lot of young guys who are working very hard. We have made a few mistakes here and there that we should be able to correct to swing things in our favour.”
The Calgary attack began and ended with Dane Dobbie and Curtis Dickson. Not only did Dobbie go 3 and 3 for six points, but he showed a gritty style of leadership at a crucial juncture in the game. With Calgary on the powerplay late in the third and the score deadlocked at eight, the Knighthawks had an opportunity to strike in transition. Recognizing that the game was in the balance, Dobbie hurtled his body at Jake Withers with a big hit open-floor hit. That power play ended up as the turning point as Calgary would score twice and never look back the rest of the way.
Dickson went off for five goals and four assists. As Calgary fans are accustomed to, Dickson had every facet of his game going – the sidearm shot, the sub shot, and the one-on-one, one-on-two and one-on-three game.
Backstopping the victory was Christian Del Bianco. The young net minder seemed unflappable as he stared down 57 shots, stopping 48 of them for an impressive 0.842 save percentage.
Calgary (7-7) will return home to the Scotiabank Saddledome to take on the Western Division leading San Diego Seals (8-4). Meanwhile the Knighthawks (2-11) will travel 600km east to Mohegan Sun Arena to take on the Black Wolves (7-6).