NLL: Rush dominate Roughnecks at Sasktel Centre

Two questions: Has there ever been a game in the NLL where only two members of a team found the scoresheet? And has there ever been an NLL game where BOTH teams were 100% on the power play?

These questions arose from the Saskatchewan Rush’s 10-6 win over the Calgary Roughnecks on Saturday night at Sasktel Centre.

It was a bad night all around for the Roughnecks. Wes Berg was dynamite, scoring twice, and Curtis Dickson scored a pair 30 seconds apart in the second quarter that cut the Rush’s lead at the time to 5-4, but they were the only two Riggers to find the back of the net.

The loss snaps the Roughnecks’ three-game winning streak. Their last loss, 13-12 also to Saskatchewan, was on January 27th. Christian Del Bianco made 42 saves Saturday in his first loss since taking the starting job from Frankie Scigliano.

In what was also a bad night for penalty killers, Calgary was three for three and Saskatchewan five for five on power play opportunities. It made a difference in the second half of the game. The winning goal and each of Saskatchewan’s three insurance markers were all scored with the man advantage.

They were sloppy penalties by Calgary. Two illegal substitution calls and both an unsportsmanlike conduct and goalie interference call on Mitch Wilde did the damage. Late in the third, Del Bianco sent a long pass up the floor intended for Wilde, but was caught by Evan Kirk instead. Wilde didn’t have time to stop, but vaulted over Kirk instead of running right into him. He nearly injured himself on the play, but the referees deemed he caught enough of Kirk on his way over him to make the call.

Mark Matthews scored twice in the first quarter after which the Rush led 4-1. Calgary actually outscored Saskatchewan 3-1 in the second quarter but the Rush pulled away with a 3-0 third. Matthews scored the winning goal at 12:54. Wes Berg kept pace with the Rush in the fourth but there was no support from the rest of the forward core and a late bench minor kept the Roughnecks from mounting a comeback.

Jeremy Thompson was an uncharacteristic three for 14 on face-offs but even those extra possessions were no help for the Roughnecks, who fired 43 shots at Evan Kirk.

Matthews led the charge for Saskatchewan with a hat-trick and four assists. Jeff Shattler had two goals and one assist while Marty Dinsdale scored twice. Robert Church (1G/2A), Ben McIntosh (1G/1A) Jeremy Thompson (1G) also scored. Ryan Keenan added four assists.

Berg led Calgary with four goals and two assists. Dickson had two goals and Holden Cattoni had two assists. Dane Dobbie assisted on five of the team’s six goals.

Saskatchewan hosts Vancouver next Saturday, March 3rd, while the Roughnecks are off until March 10th when they visit Colorado.