NLL: Hellyer’s nine points leads Rock over Roughnecks

Rob Hellyer. (Photo credit: Cliff McCaig)

The Toronto Rock, bolstered by a nine-point night from Rob Hellyer and a big fourth quarter, defeated the Calgary Roughnecks by a score of 17-14 on Saturday night at Scotiabank Saddledome. The win comes at a crucial time for the Rock as they now take over first place in a tight Eastern Division.

Rob Hellyer’s nine points (3G, 6A) moves him into fifth place in league scoring with 76, just two points ahead of teammate Adam Jones. After falling to Calgary in Week 9 of the NLL season, Hellyer said the team made some adjustments based on the physicality of the Roughnecks’ defence.

“They’ve got some big boys on defence. We’ve got to move our feet up front and move the ball to get around those guys and tonight I think we did that,” Hellyer said. “Last game they took advantage of us and pushed us around a bit and tonight we were able to match their intensity.”

Adam Jones. (Photo credit: Cliff McCaig)

It didn’t take the Rock long to get the offence rolling. Fifty-four seconds into the game, Nick Rose spotted Brodie Merrill streaking up the floor and hit him with a beautiful pass which Merrill converted to give the visitors an early lead. Toronto would continue to roll in the first quarter, building a 6-1 lead and ending the night for Calgary goaltender Christian Del Bianco.

With Frankie Scigliano between the pipes, the Roughnecks promptly scored four goals in a span of two minutes and five seconds to begin the second quarter. After the teams exchanged goals to make the score 7-6, a little bit of history was made for both teams at the halfway mark. First, Adam Jones scored his 500th career point on an outside shot that beat Scigliano low. Unbelievably, just 40 seconds later, Curtis Dickson scored on a vintage “Superman” crease dive that would be good for his 600th career point. For Jones, he reaches the 500-point plateau in just 104 career games and Dickson reaches 600 points in 133 games, all with the Roughnecks.

The second quarter ended with the score deadlocked at eight. The game remained even in the third with both teams scoring three times to make it 11-11. It wasn’t until the fourth that the Rock put the game out of reach by outscoring the Roughnecks 6-3 which included a four-goal run to start the quarter. Hellyer led the Rock in the fourth quarter, scoring twice and assisting on two others.

Hellyer summed up his team’s effort: “We need to play desperate every game. Every game is like a playoff game.”

After the tough loss in which his team battled back from numerous deficits, coach Malawsky offered his analysis on the Roughnecks’ performance: “[Rose] played well and he made some big stops. We had our chances and our defence was pretty solid for the most part. It’s one of those nights where we probably didn’t have our best. We don’t take anything away from them, they’re a good hard working team. I don’t think that was our best game.”

Toronto (7-6), was led by Hellyer and also got contributions from Jones (2G, 4A), Kieran McArdle (3G, 1A) and Reid Reinholdt (2G, 2A). Rose finished the night with 37 saves on 51 shots.

For Calgary (5-8), Dane Dobbie (4G, 2A), Curtis Dickson (4G, 1A) and Wesley Berg (1G, 4A)

were the offensive leaders. Christian Del Bianco gave up six goals on 17 shots, while Frank Scigliano stopped 31 of 41 shots.

Toronto hosts Colorado at the Air Canada Centre this Friday, March 30th, while the Roughnecks visit Vancouver on March 31st.