NLL: Halifax extends undefeated streak with win over Roughnecks

Dereck Downs shoots on Warren Hill. (Photo credit: Cliff McCaig)

The visiting Halifax Thunderbirds came into Calgary on “East Coast Kitchen Night” and treated the hometown Roughnecks to some maritime lacrosse as they extended their undefeated streak with a 15-12 win. The Thunderbirds started slow, but used a massive seven-goal run in the third quarter to pull away and lock up their sixth consecutive win.

The Halifax offense continued to get great production from their entire front end. Captain Cody Jamieson scored three goals on the night with many occurring at key times to stop Calgary’s momentum. Fellow veteran Ryan Benesch scored twice and rookie Clarke Petterson netted a hat trick giving him 11 on the season. Topping all Thunderbirds was Stephen Keogh as the nine-year veteran beat Calgary goalie Christian Del Bianco five times.

The highlight of Keogh’s five goal night came at the 12:01 mark of the third quarter. Cody Jamieson fired a long cross-floor pass that ended up at Keogh’s feet. In an effort to control the pass, Keogh tried to short hop the ball, but it skittered up and over the glass. Reacting instantly, Keogh leapt up and stretched over the glass to bring the ball back onto the playing surface. After coming down with the ball, he drove to the net, beating two defenders and firing the ball high on Christian Del Bianco.

“Jammer threw me the ball, but somebody was right on me. I made kind of a bad play on it, I should have let it come to me a little bit more, but I just didn’t want it to go out of bounds and I was lucky enough to grab it and beat my guy to the net. Burkey was there with me and made the defender slide to him and I wanted to go high and that’s what I did and I’m glad that it went in,” said Keogh on the goal.

Graeme Hossack defends Curtis Dickson. (Photo credit: Cliff McCaig)

After allowing four goals in the first quarter, Halifax made the necessary adjustments and stifled the Calgary offense. Unfortunately for head coach Curt Malawsky and the patchwork Rigger offense, inconsistency has become a common theme this season.

“It takes all of training camp and probably about five or six games for an offense to gel if you have the six or seven same guys in your dressing room every night. It was evident last year once we got Kinger back and we started going on a run and we were setting our seven best every night.”

The Roughnecks have now lost three in a row and are winless at home. Despite a great start and a halftime lead, the Roughnecks were unable to finish, surrendering 12 second half goals while only scoring six.

Jake Withers wins a faceoff against Tyler Burton. (Photo credit: Cliff McCaig)

“They went on a four-goal run and a seven-goal run and when that happens that’s catastrophic for us,” said the frustrated Malawsky. “It’s been a roller coaster season so far, but it is what it is.”

Tyler Pace led Calgary with four goals and an assist while Curtis Dickson scored three times and also added an assist. Shane Simpson was a workhorse for the Roughnecks playing both ends of the floor and ending the night with two goals, an assist and four loose balls.

Jake Withers dominated at the faceoff dot going 27/32. The Thunderbirds also won the loose ball battle scooping 86 balls compared to Calgary’s 66. Again, Withers led in that category with 12 loosies, while Scott Campbell added 10 and Graeme Hossack had nine.

The Thunderbirds (6-0) will travel to Toronto next week to take on the Rock (3-2) at Scotiabank Arena. Calgary (2-4) will get next week off before hosting the New York Riptide (1-7) on February 8th.