The buildup was palpable. From the moment San Diego landed the biggest free agent in the entire NLL, the eyes of the league were focused on this night. The return of Curtis Dickson to Calgary. Arguably one of the most beloved players in franchise history, “Superman” had wowed Roughneck fans for over a decade with highlight reel goals and dominant offensive performances. Bitter sweetly, the Rigger faithful were again treated to an offensive outburst from Dickson, except this time it was his new San Diego team that benefitted from an eight-point night. The Seals got out to a huge lead and wouldn’t look back, winning by a final score of 17-4.
The moment obviously meant something to Dickson as he could be seen hugging former teammates after the game.
“I spent 11 years, 12 years here. Very emotional coming in and walking into the Dome and going to the visitor’s room,” he said. “Watching that video and getting a standing ovation – it was tough. Obviously, a lot of good memories here and it was very different and pretty tough. A tough thing to put in the back of your mind.”
A lot had been made about the departures of Curtis Dickson, Dane Dobbie and Wes Berg to play for division rivals San Diego. When you look at the numbers, that’s a staggering 35 years of experience and over 1000 goals of production. Not to mention, all three of those players had been heavily influenced by coach Curt Malawsky.
“What did our Calgary boys get – they got 11 out of 17 goals. That’s a lot of goals I don’t have each and every night. And I love the guys we have, but it’s a maturation process with our young guys. I can’t walk out and take the air out of the ball and give it to Dane and Curtis and Bergy and say go find us one – it doesn’t happen that way. You have to play by committee and the young guys are learning,” said Malawsky after the game.
The opening half couldn’t have gone any better for the visiting Seals. After a Calgary goal was disallowed just seconds into the game, Dane Dobbie tucked in a sneaky little behind-the-back goal to start a five-goal run. Much like Calgary had done to Vancouver the previous week, San Diego refused to let the Roughnecks build any momentum. Each time a Rigger scored it was quickly answered with a San Diego goal. The second quarter was no different with Dane Dobbie grabbing his sock-trick goal and igniting a six-goal run that would carry into the next quarter. Going into the halftime break, San Diego held a dominant 13-5 lead.
The hometown squad was plagued, at times, by sloppy play. It wasn’t until after the game that it was discovered that lost bags and delayed flights led to a missed practice.
To the Roughnecks credit, they were challenged to be better and the team responded. In fact, they outscored the Seals 9-4 in the second half, but the damage of the first half was too much to overcome. Ironically, it was Dane Dobbie, Curtis Dickson and Wes Berg leading the way for San Diego with nine, eight and seven points respectively.
It could have been easy to dismiss the entire team as having an off night, but there were some bright spots for Calgary. Zach Currier was an absolute force, but his 13 loose balls don’t even begin to tell the whole story. With the departure of Tyler Burton and the injury to Justin Inacio, Currier and Eli Salama have stepped in to take draws. The courage and toughness Currier has shown in scooping balls off the faceoff is remarkable. Scrums for loose balls are among the most vicious and physical battles that take place in a game and Currier has risen to the challenge. Currier was tenacious in his pursuit of the ball for the entire game and was the best Roughneck on the floor.
The western leading San Diego Seals (3-0) will return home to play Vancouver (0-3) next week, while Calgary (2-1) flies to Colorado (1-1) for a game against the reigning champs.