NLL: Roughnecks Survive Late Game Surge by Rush

Jesse King during a Calgary Roughnecks preseason game. (Photo credit: Cliff McCaig)

The Calgary Roughnecks spoiled the Saskatchewan Rush’s home opener by earning an 11-10 victory Saturday night, in front of 9,112 fans at SaskTel Centre. The win improves Calgary to 1-1 on the season, while the Rush have now dropped their first two games of the season, both by a single goal.

The Roughnecks opened the scoring just 35 seconds in when Tyler Pace ripped a shot over Saskatchewan goalie Adam Shute’s right shoulder and into the top corner. Calgary then added two more in the first five minutes of play to build up a quick 3-0 lead.

The Rush finally responded at the 9:33 mark when Jeff Shattler scored on a perfect screen-and-roll with Mark Matthews. Matthews fed Shattler for another screen-and-roll tally just a minute later and the Rush tied the game a minute after that on another screen-and-roll, this time featuring Robert Church finishing after a pass from Ryan Keenan on the power play.

Neither team was able to establish a run for the remainder of the half as the two teams took turns scoring; they went to the locker room knotted at 6-6.

The third quarter opened with more of the same as the Roughnecks and Rush traded goals in the first five minutes. But then Calgary defenceman Curtis Manning started a three-goal run for his side, beating Shute on transition, allowing the Roughnecks to once again widen the gap. Rush forward Dan Lintner stopped the bleeding with three seconds left in the quarter, notching a power play marker and creating some momentum for his squad going into the final frame.

Saskatchewan reduced the lead to one at the 3:33 mark when Josh Currier beat Calgary netminder Christian Del Bianco. Shattler then tied the game and earned his hat trick for the night three minutes later.

The next several minutes featured scoring opportunities on both ends of the field, with neither team able to find the twine until Calgary’s Zach Herreweyers finally beat Shute with just two minutes left on the clock. The Rush put pressure on Del Bianco and the Roughnecks defence but were not able to force overtime.

Del Bianco earned First Star honours for his 49 save effort between the pipes for Calgary; Shute turned aside 25 shots in the loss.

The Roughnecks offense was lead by Jesse King, who had a seven-point game (one goal, six assists), while the Rush were paced by a six-point performance by Mark Matthews (2G, 6A).

Next Friday, the Roughnecks return home to host the San Diego Seals while Saskatchewan travels to Vancouver to face the undefeated Warriors.