NLL: Roughnecks find their inner Rocky and get redemption against Seals

CALGARY, AB – JANUARY 14, 2023: San Diego Seals versus the Calgary Roughnecks at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday night (Photo by Angela Burger/Calgary Roughnecks).

After watching Saturday night’s rematch between Calgary and San Diego, one couldn’t help but think back to the original Rocky and Rocky II movies from the 70’s. If you recall, a young Rocky Balboa fights the heavyweight champ, Apollo Creed, and takes a beating for most of the fight. A late surge falls short and Creed wins the bout. Fast forward to Rocky II and a hardened Balboa, urged on by gruff trainer Mickey, is able to turn the tables and defeat Creed to even the series.

Sound familiar? Only two weeks ago, Calgary took a pounding from San Diego, losing that game 17-14. Saturday night, the Roughnecks punched back and won the rematch 14-10 – handing the Seals their first loss of the season.

“The guys just really stepped up. You talk about getting to doors. You talk about soaking shots. You talk about playing in the middle of the floor when you’re going get your teeth punched in and smashed,” commented head coach Curt Malawsky about his team’s resolve.

“To a man, each guy has to earn a little bit more respect from their teammates. I think tonight when they go home and they’re lying in bed and they’re thinking – that guy was better than I thought he was and he stuck in when I needed him – it was a true Band of Brothers tonight.”

The main headline for the Roughnecks was the acquisition of Josh Currier (brother of Zach Currier), from the Saskatchewan Rush. The move paid immediate dividends as Currier scored just 30 seconds into the game. Not to be outdone, brother Zach scored 15 seconds later to continue what would be a five-goal run by the home team. San Diego responded by capitalizing on a string of power plays scoring three times and adding an even strength goal to draw within one.

“That’s what this fight is going to be… a war.” – Mickey

Calgary absorbed the four goals and countered with three of their own – something they didn’t do in the first game. A pair from Herreweyers and one from Jesse King had the Riggers out front 8-4 at the half.

The undefeated Seals came out punching in the third and landed some big shots from Dobbie, Dickson and Berg. With their offence temporarily wobbled, Calgary exploited a weak spot in the San Diego defence. Led by goaltender Christian del Bianco, the Riggers rained down long breakaway passes in behind the Seals’ defence. Shane Simpson converted three of those passes into goals, while Mitch Wilde netted the other. When the final buzzer sounded to end the game, it was the Roughnecks tying up the season series at one apiece with a 14-10 victory.

“The first game we came out here and I think we were a little in awe. We gave them too much respect at times. They’re great players but we’re on the same level. I think tonight we just played it a little different – we took it to them rather than letting them be the aggressors all the time,” said Calgary goalie Christian del Bianco. “In the fourth quarter, we were able to pull away with guys like Shane Simpson making a difference in transition.”

In his second game back to Calgary, Curtis Dickson led the attack with three goals and four assists. Dane Dobbie and Austin Staats each added four points. After giving up four early goals, Frank Scigliano was replaced by Chris Origlieri. Origlieri stopped 33 of 42 shots.

New Roughneck Josh Currier made a good first impression with his new team. He scored the opening goal and added four assists. Shane Simpson and Jesse King both had hat tricks. Christian del Bianco stopped 40 of 50 shots and contributed three assists.

These two clubs will meet in San Diego on March 31st to decide the season series. Until then both teams will resume play in week 9 with Calgary (3-2) taking on Toronto(3-2) and San Diego (4-1) playing Colorado (3-1) .