NLL: Roughnecks tie franchise record for wins with 12-7 score over Desert Dogs

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13,000 loud and enthusiastic Calgary Roughnecks’ supporters packed WestJet Field on Fan Appreciation night to catch their first glimpse of the expansion Las Vegas Desert Dogs. Even NLL commissioner Brett Frood was in the building to take in the action as part of a trip out west to watch a pair of games in Calgary and Saskatoon.

Making the most of their hometown crowd (the “seventh man” as coach Malawsky coined them), the Roughnecks Express continued to roll with a solid 12-7 victory over the Dogs. The win gives them 12 on the season, tying a franchise record set in 2009, 2012 and most recently in 2014.

Sophomore Tanner Cook had a six-point night including two goals and four assists. The big lefty from Courtice, Ontario now has 30 goals and 59 points placing him third in team scoring with one game left to go.

“It’s no secret what we’re building in the dressing room. From top to bottom, from Mouse to every guy in the room, everybody plays a part. Everybody’s leaning on one another and its coming together on the floor,” commented Cook after the game. “We were just having fun. One time Nickleback came on, and those are my guys, so they got me a little fired up there and I put the ball in the net.”

The first half was a defensive battle as both teams did an excellent job of clogging up the middle and frustrating shooters. The shots that did make it through were handled by Vegas goalie Joel Watson and Calgary goalie Christian Del Bianco.

Midway through the second quarter, Zach Currier scooped up a loose ball and appeared to have a breakaway when he was tripped by Zack Greer – leading to a rare penalty shot. Calgary’s top scorer Jesse King was selected to take the shot and was looking to go far side. Watson stayed calm and coolly extended his stick hand and turned aside the shot keeping his team within a goal at 4-3. The quarter seemed destined to end that way, but an absolute laser from Josh Currier found the top corner with one second left on the clock giving Calgary a 5-3 halftime lead.

The action was back and forth to start the third. Two goals by stand-out rookie Jack Hannah had the Desert Dogs within a goal at 7-6. However, Calgary responded with two straight goals from Tyler Pace to close out the quarter. Buoyed by their hometown fans, the ‘Necks found another gear and outscored the Dogs 3-1 boosting them to a 12-7 win.

Again, the Roughnecks’ defense was outstanding surrendering under ten goals for the tenth time this season. Zach Currier was especially good as all night he stalked unsuspecting Desert Dogs and then savagely pounced forcing 4 turnovers. Currier also scooped seven loosies giving him an NLL leading 218 – eight ahead of Vancouver’s Reid Bowering.

The loss drops the Desert Dogs to 5-11 and ends their playoff hopes. A definite bright spot has been the play of Jack Hannah. His three points on the night have him at 56 on the season – good for second behind Rob Hellyer’s 82. Jacob Ruest led the Dogs with three goals and an assist while Joel Watson stopped 35 of 47 shots.

Once again, Jesse King led the way scoring twice and adding five assists. If King is able to collect six points in the final game, he will hit the century mark for the first time in his career. Meanwhile, Christian Del Bianco stopped 31 of 38 shots and dropped his season GAA to 9.11.

Calgary (12-5) plays its season finale against Panther City (9-7) next week while Las Vegas (5-11) will take on San Diego (12-4).