CALGARY, AB -- The Calgary Roughnecks missed out on a chance to secure a home playoff berth by virtue of a 12-11 setback to the Washington Stealth on Saturday night.
The Riggers led 11-10 late in the fourth quarter before Dean Hill and Rhys Duch scored back-breaking goals one minute apart for the Stealth to disappoint the crowd of 10,008 fans on hand at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
“It was one of our goals at the start of the season to get the home playoff game, especially in front of our great fans,” said Calgary captain Andrew McBride. “We played well the first half and then kind of got a little undisciplined. I thought they outworked us in the second half. It’s one of those things. You’ve got to bear down and finish.”
Curtis Dickson had a hat trick, including the 100th goal of his NLL career, in a losing cause for the Roughnecks (8-6), who are now in a three-way tie for first place in the NLL’s West Division with the Stealth and the Edmonton Rush.
“That’s good for this league,” McBride said. “You want to come and put your best foot forward and especially have games that mean something down the stretch. We really want to get that first place and run things through the ’Dome. We want to be playing with our fans and be able to have our home floor and the crowd and our routine.”
Dane Dobbie led all Calgary scorers with two goals and three assists, while Jeff Shattler scored twice and set up two others.
“It’s one of those games,” Dobbie said. “You win some and you lose some. We got a little snake-bitten in the third and fourth and we got into penalty trouble so that’s the way it goes sometimes.
Scott Ranger had a goal and three assists, while Shawn Evans (1g, 2a), Geoff Snider (1g, 2a) and Dan MacRae (1g) also scored. Goalie Mike Poulin made 38 saves in a losing cause.
Duch paced the Stealth attack with three goals and four assists, while former Roughnecks Lewis Ratcliff (3g, 2a) and Jeff Moleski (2g) also had strong efforts. Kyle Buchanan, Mike Grimes, Brett Bucktooth and Hill also scored for Washington, while Tyler Richards was strong in net as he made 48 saves to record the win.
Geoff Snider won the opening faceoff from his brother Bob and proceeded to score just seven seconds into the game to give the Riggers an early 1-0 lead.
Ratcliff then tied things up with a power-play goal for the Stealth at 1:51 of the opening frame before Ranger and MacRae scored for Calgary to give the ’Necks a 3-1 lead.
Moleski notched a short-handed goal for the Stealth with 13.3 seconds left in the first before, Grimes and Duch scored early in the second to put the Stealth up 4-3.
The Riggers then reeled off four straight goals, two by Dobbie and one each off the sticks of Shattler and Evans, to give the ’Necks a 7-4 lead through two quarters.
Calgary extended that lead to 9-5 thanks to a pair of goals by Dickson early in the third quarter before the Stealth responded with five straight goals to take a 10-9 lead into the final frame.
“Another bad third quarter and very, very undisciplined,” said Calgary coach Curt Malawsky. “We had eight power plays against us. Six of the eight were undisciplined penalties in my mind. We put ourselves in a hole in the fourth quarter. You never want to be playing with fire. We’ve been playing with fire for the last couple of days and it burnt us.”
Shattler scored at 4:01 of the fourth before Dickson completed his hat trick 10 seconds later to put Calgary up 11-10. Mitch McMichael then set up Hill’s goal at 11:15 and Duch’s game-winning tally 60 seconds later.
“We battled, but that’s not playoff lacrosse,” said Snider. “You’ve got to play squeaky clean. We’re pushing to play playoff lacrosse. We’re not playing regular season lacrosse. That’s our goal here is to get to a playoff level.”
Next up, the Riggers will host the Rochester Knighthawks at the ’Dome next Saturday night before wrapping up their regular-season schedule with a game in Edmonton against the Rush on April 20.
“We don’t really care about what anybody else is doing,” Snider said. “We care about what we’re doing. We’re going to get better.
“We’ve got a very gritty talented eastern team coming in here next week and we’ve got to be ready to play and ready to compete and ready to keep pushing towards that opening playoff game. That’s the goal here is playing good lacrosse, winning games obviously to push us into a home playoff game.”