Riggers outlast Knighthawks
There’s probably no better feeling in any sport than putting on a show against a former team. Enter Shawn Evans. The dynamic little forward picked up three points in each of the first two quarters Friday night to launch the Calgary Roughnecks to an unexpectedly tense, 15-14 victory over the Rochester Knighthawks at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
A 2005 first-round draft choice of the K-hawks, Evans finished with three goals and six assists as the Roughnecks celebrated a franchise-equalling sixth-straight victory to raise their West Division-leading record to 11-3.
The two teams, playing against each other for just the fifth time in National Lacrosse League history and for the first time since April 3, 2010, will go right back at each other a week from today in Rochester.
Calgary will finish the season April 28 at Edmonton and then prepare for a West semifinal playoff game at the Saddledome on May 5. Those tickets go on sale Tuesday at the usual outlets.
Evans, the Roughnecks leading point collector with 67 on the season, was acquired by Calgary prior to last year’s entry draft after spending his first six seasons of NLL action with Rochester.
It was his first game against his former team and the Roughnecks’ largest crowd of the season, 9,806, applauded every move by the 25-year-old in a game in which the home side almost let a seven-goal lead slip away.
“It feels great,” said Evans of his second nine-point outing of the season. “I definitely had mixed emotions going into the game and thank God we came out with the win. We had that game after the first half and just had to keep playing. Just costly turnovers, let them transition the ball and they got back in the game. They battled back hard, but we stuck together and good teams find a way to win.”
Completing the scoring for the victors were Dane Dobbie, with four goals, Scott Ranger, Jeff Shattler and Curtis Dickson, with two each, and Darryl Veltman and Travis Cornwall with one each.
Johnny powless led rochester (5-8) with four goals. Stephen Keogh added three and Cody Jamieson and Mike Accursi a pair each. Powless was the player acquired with the firstround pick Rochester obtained from Calgary for Evans.
Mike Poulin had another strong night in the Calgary goal, especially late in the fourth quarter when he made a series of one-on-one saves before losing his head gear and his stick during the final 15 seconds when Rochester pressed hard for the equalizer.
The Roughnecks, who have been able to lock down opposing offences in recent games, had an 11-4 lead at one stage of the second quarter before ending the first half up 11-5.
“Sometimes your offence has to win games and that’s what they did tonight,” said Calgary head coach Dave Pym. “Defensively, we struggled a little bit. We lost Jon Harnett early and that dropped us to nine defenders and it’s taxing on the body. We were dictating the pace of play and what not in the first half, but we got a little bit on our heels in the second half and it took awhile for us to regroup.”
Rochester starter Matt Vinc was relieved briefly midway through the second quarter after the Roughnecks exploded for four goals during a 39-second span after the visitors had pulled to within 4-3.
As the Roughnecks kept pouring it on, the game had rout stamped all over it.
“The ball was finding the back of the net,” said Evans. “When the ball’s moving on offence, I think we’re unstoppable. We proved that in the first half, put up 11 goals on their No. 1 goalie. It was a good team effort and a big win for us.”
THIS AND THAT: Transition and faceoff ace Geoff Snider sat out a second straight game with an ankle injury . . . Ranger played in his 100th career NLL game . . . Veteran F Kaleb Toth, an original Roughneck, dressed for just his seventh game . . . The second quarter featured a full-blown fight between Peter Mcfetridge and Pat McCready after the latter player side-swiped Poulin.