Riggers fall 16-11 to the Toronto Rock on the road.
A slow start handcuffed the Calgary Roughnecks as they fell 16-11 versus the Toronto Rock on Friday night in their season opener to the 2014 NLL campaign.
“Sometimes it’s better to lose the game than win ‘em,” said Roughnecks sniper Jeff Shattler, who led the team with four goals and chipped in two assists. “You learn a lot about your team and your teammates when you’re down, and what they are capable of doing when they’re down. That’s what championship teams do.
“We have 17 games left and that’s a positive coming out of tonight.”
The Rock started the match on a three-goal run, and finished the first 15 minutes up 7-3, culminating in a Rob Hellyer goal with just 1.0 seconds left.
“Down 7-3 against a team like that in their building, it’s tough to battle back,” said head coach Curt Malawsky. “We didn’t do a good job of controlling momentum as visitors.”
“We took some penalties early, we turned the ball over and our offense wasn’t able to get the ball down low.”
The Rock had six different scorers in the first stanza, with Hellyer finding two goals. Colin Doyle, Garrett Billings, Jesse Gamble, Stephan Leblanc and Josh Sanderson rounded out the scoring.
Dane Dobbie sniped back-to-back goals, while Matthew Dinsdale added a single in response for the Roughnecks.
Take away the first quarter, and it was a very close game.
Toronto expanded the lead slightly in the second quarter, with Doyle and Leblanc both firing their second tallies of the night. Daryl Veltman replied for Calgary.
After 30 minutes, the Roughnecks trailed 9-4 versus their East Divison rivals.
“The second half, we had to play. We didn’t want the game to get out of hand,” Shattler said. “We didn’t want to lose by 10 or 12 in our season opener. Not only for ourselves, but also our coaching staff and owners.
“There isn’t much we can say about that game, they outplayed us.”
The two teams swapped goals in the third, until the Roughnecks attempted to make a game out of it in the final quarter. Down five, Calgary came out firing and were able to make it 13-10 but that was as close as they would get. The Rock received two straight late from Ethan O’Connor and Stephan Leblanc to seal the victory.
Shawn Evans, the reigning NLL MVP, led the Roughnecks with an eight-point effort, scoring one goal and setting up seven others. Curtis Dickson (1g, 3a) and Daryl Veltman (1g, 3a) both contributed with four points each for Calgary. Dane Dobbie (2g, 1a), Matthew Dinsdale (1g, 1a) and Geoff Snider (1g) rounded out the scoring for the Roughnecks.
Garrett Billings recorded a game-leading 10 points for the home squad, tallying one goal and adding nine assists. Stephan Leblanc (5g), Rob Hellyer (3g), Josh Sanderson (2g) and Colin Doyle (2g) all registered multi-goal performances, with Kasey Beirnes, Ethan O'Connor and Jesse Gambling adding single markers in the win.
Calgary goaltender Mike Poulin stopped 45 of 60 shots he faced in the losing cause, while former Roughnecks netminder Nick Rose made 40 saves to record his first win of the season.
The Roughnecks long-awaited home opener goes next Friday at the Scotiabank Saddledome when they take on the Colorado Mammoth.