NLL: Roughnecks demolish Rush 18-8

The Calgary Roughnecks celebrate their 18-8 win over the Saskatchewan Rush. (Photo credit: Cliff McCaig)

The Calgary Roughnecks closed out their 2019 regular season campaign in front of a sellout crowd of 19,289 and delivered the type of game that coaches and players work towards all season long. With a resounding 18-8 victory over the reigning champs from Saskatchewan, Calgary finishes the season with their first winning record since 2014 as well as their first series win against the Rush since 2013.

“I thought all facets of our game were going really well tonight. From the goaltending out, I thought there was a lot of great efforts. I think the big thing was collectively as a group we were pretty tight,” said head coach Curt Malawsky. “The guys really cherish being here and just being a part of the organization and being a part of this great culture that we have here in Calgary.”

The Roughnecks delivered a dominating performance from start to finish giving the hometown crowd plenty to cheer about on Fan Appreciation Night. The Calgary assault started early and struck often, tallying eight goals in the first quarter and six more in the second, staking the Riggers to a 14-5 lead at the half. That lead would prove to be more than enough as Calgary would go on to add four more goals matching their season high of 18.

As he’s done all year long, MVP candidate and leading scorer Dane Dobbie put the finishing touches on his best season as a pro. The lefty sniper contributed four goals and four assists giving him 115 points on the season, which is the second best point total in Roughnecks’ history (Shawn Evans had 130 points in 2015). With one week left in the season, Dobbie currently sits first in goals, assists and points.

After the game, Dobbie was quick to credit his teammates.

“I try and do the best I can and contribute as much as I can to help put wins on the board. It’s a credit to the eight guys, nine guys that have been on the offense with me all year – they’re fantastic. My left side’s massive, they set great picks and then the righties find me back side so I’ve got a lot of easy goals.”

While the entire offensive unit enjoyed good a night on the stat sheet, goaltender Christian Del Bianco reminded everyone of how lethal he can be with the ball in his stick. Del Bianco racked up three assists on the night with all of them coming in the form of long-distance strikes to streaking Roughnecks’ players. Between the pipes, Del Bianco was equally as good, stopping 37 of 45 shots in the victory.

For the number of Saskatchewan faithful who made the long bus trip to Calgary, their team gave them little to cheer about. Starting goalie Evan Kirk was pulled in the second quarter after allowing 10 goals on 20 shots. The Rush offense was mostly held in check with the exception of Mark Matthews, who led all Rush scorers with a goal and five assists.

Tyler Pace also had a great game for Calgary, scoring four times and adding two assists. Dan Taylor contributed a hat trick. Jesse King, in his second game, scored twice and added four assists. Curtis Dickson scored once and assisted on five others.

Saskatchewan (10-7) will close out their season next Saturday with a home game versus the Colorado Mammoth (6-11), while Calgary (10-8) will enjoy a bye week before the playoffs begin.