Despite a five-point effort by Curtis Dickson, the Calgary Roughnecks fell 15-7 to the Edmonton Rush in front of 10,691 fans at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Friday night.
“When you get down early, it’s tough to come back especially against a good team like Edmonton,” said Dickson, who scored four times and added an assist.
The Rush improved upon their NLL record for the best-ever start to a season as they have reeled off 10 straight wins.
“They’re definitely the cream of the league and that’s what we’ve got to raise our game to,” said Calgary captain Andrew McBride of the Rush, which also beat the Riggers 15-8 in Edmonton on Jan. 17.
“They’re the ones that are in championship mode right now and that’s kind of the podium that’s been set,” McBride continued. “We’ve got to see what it takes to get up there and go back and watch some file, have a good week and be prepared to battle for a playoff spot.”
Jeff Shattler had a goal and two assists for the Roughnecks (6-5), who have suffered two straight setbacks on the heels of four consecutive wins.
“A good team like that steps on you and steps on your throat and they stepped on our throat tonight,” said Calgary coach Curt Malawsky, whose team will hit the road to play the Vancouver Stealth in Langley, B.C. next Friday. “It’s a good learning lesson for our guys and we have to regroup and get ready for Vancouver.”
Dane Dobbie (1g, 1a) and Tor Reinholdt (1g) also scored, while Daryl Veltman chipped in with three assists. Mike Poulin started in net for the Riggers and stopped 23 of 31 shots he faced. Frankie Scigliano made 24 saves in a relief appearance.
“That was probably the only positive of our game tonight, both our goaltenders,” McBride said.
Zach Greer led the way for the Rush with a hat trick, while former Roughnecks forward Cory Conway had two goals and two assists.
Mark Matthews (2g, 1a), Curtis Knight (2g, 1a), Chris Corbeil (2g), Jeff Cornwall (1g, 2a), Jeremy Thompson (1g, 2a), Ryan Dilks (1g, 1a) and Nik Bilic (1g) also hit the scoresheet for Edmonton, while Rush goalie Aaron Bold made 27saves to record the win.
The Roughnecks took an early 1-0 lead on a power-play goal by Dickson exactly one minute into the first quarter. Calgary then had a chance to go up by a pair, but Bold stood his ground to stop Garrett McIntosh’s breakaway attempt.
Greer fired a low shot past Poulin at 7:22 of the opening frame to tie the score at 1-1. That started a run of six straight Edmonton goals, three of them by Greer, as the Rush built up a 6-1 lead by the 5:16 mark of the second quarter.
After Dickson notched a short-handed marker, Dilks, Corbeil and Knight responded with three quick goals for the Rush to extend Edmonton’s lead to 9-2.
With just 3.1 seconds remaining on the clock in the first half, Dickson finished off his hat trick by batting a loose ball past Ward.
Trying to inject some enthusiasm into his team and the crowd, Geoff Snider dropped the gloves to fight Thompson as time expired in the first half. Unfortunately for the Riggers, Snider was also assessed a cross-checking penalty, giving the Rush an early man advantage in the third quarter.
Undeterred, Matthew Dinsdale fought hard to win the opening faceoff and Karsen Leung scooped up the loose ball. Leung then lofted a pass up the floor to Dickson, who mishandled the ball at first before batting it out of mid-air past Bold 15 seconds into the third quarter.
Shattler notched a power-play goal at 2:42 of the second to pull the Riggers within five of their provincial rivals before Bilic and Matthews replied with goals for Edmonton to put the Rush up 11-5.
Matthews actually had a chance to build on Edmonton’s lead when he was awarded a penalty shot with 5.4 seconds left in the third, but Sciliagno made a nice save before covering up the ball in the crease.
Matthews opened the scoring at 4:52 of the fourth quarter before Conway counted back-to-back goals to give the Rush a commanding 14-5 lead.
Reinholdt and Dobbie then scored two of the final three goals of the game for the Riggers, who still have a chance to earn a measure of redemption against the Rush later this season as the two teams will meet for a home-and-home set on April 12th (at Calgary) and 19th (at Edmonton).
“We’ve got two more against them, so we’ve got lots of opportunities to fix what’s wrong,” Dickson said. “They’re the best team in the league and we came out flat both times we’ve played against them. You never want to give your home fans a show like that. It’s something we’ve got to fix. We’ll come out and get them next game.”