First place in sight for the Roughnecks

Shawn Slaght, All Lacrosse All The Time – A Division of the Edge of Philly Sports Network

With a 12-7 win over the Las Vegas Desert Dogs on Friday night, the Calgary Roughnecks keep first place in sight in the NLL West Division.

The win moves the Roughnecks to 12-5 in the standings and evens them up with the San Diego Seals. The Seals do have a game in hand with a record of 12-4. Calgary wraps up its regular season next Friday against Panther City. Meanwhile, San Diego has Las Vegas next weekend and Colorado on Saturday, April 29.

The post-season hopes for the Desert Dogs aren’t as bright. With the loss, the Desert Dogs remain in sixth place in the West Division at 5-11 and have been officially eliminated from the playoffs.

Friday night’s game was close through the first half as Calgary held a 5-3 lead. It was a huge second half where the Roughnecks outscored the Desert Dogs 7-4 that pulled them ahead for good to keep first place in sight.

Of interest, Las Vegas goaltender Landon Kells was out with a knee injury. Joel Watson got the start with Colin Kirst as his backup. It’s the first time the Kirst brothers, Colin and Connor, have suited up together for an NLL game. It was also a milestone night for Jacob Ruest and Christian Del Bianco, who each played their 100th career game. With six points, Tanner Cook picked up 100 points for his career.

First quarter

Las Vegas jumped out to the early lead with Ruest finding the back of the net 3:01 into the first quarter.

Calgary would reply 7:10 later. With Emerson Clark in the box for cross-checking for Las Vegas, Tanner Cook scored the power play marker to tie it up 1-1.

Jeff Cornwall gave Calgary the lead with 12 seconds left in the frame. Taking the ball down on transition, he was two-on-one against a defender, but managed to bounce the ball passed Watson to make it 2-1.

Second quarter

The Roughnecks extended its lead to three goals to open the second quarter. Haiden Dickson and Jesse King finished off a four-goal run that started in the first quarter to make it 3-1.

Jon Phillips scored with 8:11 on the clock followed shortly after that by John Wagner as the Desert Dogs fought back to get within one.

Josh Currier’s outside shot with 0.5 seconds left on the clock gave Calgary a 5-3 lead at the break.

Third quarter

The third quarter opened with the Roughnecks showing off the speed of their transition game. A turnover in Las Vegas’ offensive end led to Shane Simpson going coast-to-coast to make it 6-3.

A running shot by Ruest with 11:06 on the clock made it 6-4. Eleven seconds later Eli Salama took the ball down the floor and scored to restore the three-goal lead.

Jack Hannah continued his outstanding rookie season. He scored a pair of goals 1:35 apart to make it 7-6 with 9:00 left to play in the quarter.

Tyler Pace scored two beauties including a behind-the-back goal with 5:28 on the clock as the Roughnecks held a 9-6 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.

Fourth quarter

Goals by Kyle Waters and Cook to open the fourth quarter more-or-less put the game away as the Roughnecks went up 11-6.

Ruest got Las Vegas back on the board with less than 10:00 left in the game, but Jesse King would put the final nail in the coffin as Calgary keeps first place in sight with the 12-7 victory.

Tanner Cook shared his thoughts after the game:

Top Scorers

Calgary Roughnecks

Jesse King, 2g 5a

Tanner Cook, 2g 4a

Josh Currier, 1g 3a

Las Vegas Desert Dogs

Jacob Ruest, 3g 1a

Jon Phillips, 1g 2a

Jack Hannah, 2g 1a

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Shawn Slaght
Shawn Slaght

Shawn Slaght has been a sports reporter across the Canadian prairies for over 10 years and has experience covering everything from junior hockey to World Cup skiing to all levels of lacrosse. He is the Saskatchewan correspondent for All Lacrosse All The Time.