The second installment of last year’s Champions Cup finals happened tonight with the hometown Calgary Roughnecks (2-7) versus three time defending champs Rochester Knighthawks (6-3) in what was being billed as a must win game for last year’s West Division champions who have looked anything but it to start the year.
Ian Llord opened the scoring for the visitors on a transition play off a rebound from a Calgary fast break. Both teams were moving the ball well early with chances going both ways.
Matt Vinc was solid early not allowing a goal for the first 13 minutes of the game and holding the Roughnecks to only two goals in the second half, but after an Ian Llord slashing call—which Daryl Veltman capitalized on with a wicked bounce shot from the top on the powerplay with nice passing from Evans—the momentum from that goal seemed to force a less than ideal shot from Dan Dawson which started an odd man rush on a long pass from Mike Poulin to hit Andrew McBride in stride who then hit a streaking Karson Leung for his first of the night.
The Roughnecks seemed to have left in the second how they finished the first on another nice passing play from Jeff Shattler to hit Leung streaking again to bury it far side on Vinc to make it 3-1. The Knighthawks finally killed the momentum Calgary developed by burying one mid-period when Aaron Wilson was the recipient of a pass from Brad Self and Cody Jamison to get their first goal since the first quarter. After settling the play a bit Shawn Evans received a quick pass from Matthew Dinsdale to answer right back and put the home team up by two again.
The two goal lead wouldn’t last long as Dane Dobbie would hit a post dead on and big Dan Dawson finished a loose ball rebound and out ran Leung to bury one and pull the Knighthawks to within one. Both teams would take penalty calls late in the frame to make it even four-on-four and Rochester made the best of an open floor with Jamison finding Craig Point on a cross floor pass and a nice finish to pull the teams even going into the half 4-4.
The Knighthawks would keep that momentum into the third quarter as 30 seconds in Wilson would get his second goal of the night on a broken play from Joe Walter and Dan Dawson and the very next possession they would take their first two goal lead of the game on a quick play to Jordan Hall on another pass from Walter. Tempers would get the better of players Jamison as well as Curtis Dickson from a previous play and after some pushing and shoving both players were assessed minor penalties for roughing.
Teams would go scoreless for 10 minutes before Veltman would get his second of the night off a post rebound from a rocket of a shot from Leung to get the Roughnecks first goal of the second half. Sid Smith would answer right back for the Knighthawks after picking off an Evans pass and finishing on the ensuing breakaway to put Rochester up by two again. Walters got on the board after beating two defenders from the corner and putting it short side on Poulin to get the Knighthawks first three goal lead of the night.
Walters continued the momentum for Rochester opening the scoring in the fourth quarter and then Jordan Hall beat two defenders and walked in for an easy goal making it 10-5. Mike Poulin got pulled right after in favor of Frankie Scigliano which seemed to put a spark in the Riggers as they would get a goal on a long shot from Evans on a smart pass from Shattler to start cutting into the Knighthawks lead.
On a bounce shot Evans ripped his third of the game on a nice cross floor pass from Dobbie to bring the home side within one with just under 10 minutes left to go in the game. But, with 3:24 to go the on a persistent offence Hall got the Knighthawks’ 11th goal of the evening on which Scigliano would be run into but nothing would come of the scrum. The Roughnecks would pull Frankie to get the extra attacker on and Brad Self would get a rebounded shot from Dickson and put it in the empty net.
With just over a minute remaining, on some sloppy Calgary defence the Knighthawks’ Point would get one late off a rebounded shot from Wilson to put the game out of reach for the Roughnecks with a final score of 13-7.
Curt Malawsky was quoted as saying, “You know they’re the champs for a reason, they played a great road game,” on the Knighthawks game. “At the end of the day it’s momentum and that’s back breakers, we gotta come up with some stops you know, I’ve said for years it’s not how many, it’s when.”
The Calgary Roughnecks are back in action next Friday as they host the newly expanded New England Black Wolves. Game time is 7 pm MT at the Scotiabank Saddledome.