As most coaches will say, the outcome of games is often rooted in timely, momentum changing plays. On Saturday night, the Calgary Roughnecks got those plays in spades as they went on to defeat the Toronto Rock 15-9 at Scotiabank Saddledome in front of 10,674 fans.
After losing to Saskatchewan last week, Calgary’s strategy was simple.
“Sask punched us in the mouth and tonight… our plan was to come out hard early and see if we can’t jump on them and get a lead,” stated Coach Malawsky after the game.
Indeed, Calgary would throw the first punch. Shortly after the opening faceoff, the Roughnecks were penalized for an illegal cross-check giving Toronto an opportunity to strike first. During a prolonged attack in the Roughnecks’ end, defender Greg Harnett blocked a hard shot from Johnny Powless with his leg. On the ensuing play, Mitch Wilde scooped a loose ball along the boards and managed to shovel a terrific pass over to captain Dan MacRae who broke in alone and beat Nick Rose with a high flying, crease-diving goal.
“That was a huge goal for us. You could see the emotion on our bench how well liked he is. It was pretty exciting for all of us and it was a good way to get started,” said Malawsky.
With the fire lit, Calgary attacked Toronto in every facet of the game. From unrelenting transition to a dominant special teams group, the Calgary Roughnecks imposed their will on their way to an 8-3 halftime lead.
To their credit, Toronto played a much improved second half. The Rock scored three goals in transition, including a shorthanded marker by Challen Rogers. Dan Lintner scored his second and third goals of the contest, but the Rock were unable to generate the run of goals they desperately needed to get back in the game.
With time running out in the fourth quarter, Calgary delivered one final punch when Curtis Dickson dropped the gloves with Phil Caputo after Caputo delivered a high hit on Dan MacRae. Both combatants landed some good shots, but it was Dickson scoring the win after taking Caputo down and leaving him bloodied.
Third year Rock head coach Matt Sawyer acknowledged his team’s slow start: “Right from the get-go we come out, we’re on the power play early. We possess the ball for about a minute and a half and then we give up a shorthanded marker. At one point, they had three power play goals there and two shorthanded early on. They came out and they were a much better team than us at the start and they pushed us around out there.”
Despite being held goalless, Tom Schreiber led the Rock with four assists. Lintner tallied three goals while Dan Craig chipped in with a goal and two assists. Goaltender Nick Rose made 29 saves on 44 shots in the loss.
In somewhat of an unusual stat line, Curtis Dickson led the Roughnecks with eight points – all coming via assist. Dane Dobbie scored once and added six helpers while Rhys Duch went four and two for six points. Christian Del Bianco faced 55 shots, stopping 46 of them, good for a 0.836 save percentage.
Week 14 action will see the Mammoth (3-8) come to Calgary for a date with the Roughnecks (6-6), while Toronto (7-3) will return home to face the Rochester Knighthawks (2-8).