Roughnecks sink Thunderbirds in kitchen party at Dome

Pace, King, Currier all turn hat-tricks in offensive onslaught by host NLL club

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The Calgary Roughnecks wanted to make sure the East Coast Kitchen Party was a rockin’ good time.

So they threw everything at the high-flying Halifax Thunderbirds, including the kitchen sink, Sunday night at Scotiabank Saddledome.

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And that offensive onslaught meant a timely wash-out of a team the Roughnecks are trying to track down for a National Lacrosse League playoff spot.

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“It was awesome,” said Roughnecks forward Tyler Pace, of the 17-11 victory in front of 10,204 raucous fans at WestJet Field to move the team closer to .500 — at 4-5 — and closer to one fo the league’s eight playoff spots.

“Like we’ve been a little bit snakebitten coming out the front door the last several weeks,” continued Pace. “So to pile them on like that and chase the goalie twice and get contributions from the back-end made it a full-team effort.

“Halifax was coming off a game (Friday) night (in a 14-12 win over the visiting Buffalo Bandits) … and we just took it to them.”

Boy, did they ever.

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The offence went wild, rag-dolling goaltenders Warren Hill and Drew Hutchison, who had backstopped the T-birds — now 6-4 — to a four-game winning streak coming in.

Pace himself was a force with three goals, including his 100th goal.

Captain Jesse King also turned the hat-trick, as did Josh Currier, playing in his 100th NLL game and capping his big night in the final quarter by going airborne from behind the net and tucking it home.

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“Definitely, Josh played very well,” said Roughnecks head coach Josh Sanderson. “I thought all o-guys were really good up front. It was probably our best game up front for a while, so I’m really happy that they got rewarded with some production. Josh, for his 100th game … to have a good game like that, good for him.”

Teammates Tanner Cook and Shane Simpson — in transition, of course — each had two snipes.

And Riggers singles went to Robert Hudson — for his third in just two appearances this season — Zach Currier, Thomas Hoggarth and Haiden Dickson.

“To be honest, I think the balls were just going in, and we just stuck with it and kept shooting,” Pace said. “And we kept scoring. So why stop? It was an if-it-ain’t-broke, don’t-fix-it kind of thing.

“To get the goals up front is big for us.”
At the other end, Roughnecks goaltender Christian Del Bianco made 38 stops in getting the victory.

“It was a big win for us, obviously,” Sanderson said. “Halifax had a big win Friday night against Buffalo. They’re one of the top teams in the league, so we knew we had to be ready, and I thought we came out with really good energy. They answered some of our runs, but then we could answer right back. I’m just really happy with the guys playing a full 60 minutes.”

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The home side was especially goal-happy to start the affair, scoring early and often.

The Riggers built a 6-2 lead, which shrank to 6-4 by the end of the first quarter.

They then went off for three straight to start the second stanza to build up 9-4 and 11-5 advantages as part of seven goals sniped in the period. The T-birds did manage to score four of the last seven goals in the half to keep within shouting distance — 13-9 at intermission.

And the visitors trimmed it down even further — with the first two goals of the second half to make it 13-11 — with offence becoming a premium in the third and fourth quarters.

King scored the only home goal — on the power play — for the Roughnecks in the third frame.
And Simpson — in transition with a beautiful move after taking a long-range bomb of a pass from Del Bianco — Dickson and Josh Currier got the only fourth-quarter tallies for either side to ensure the home victory.

Captain King had a game-high nine points in the win, while Pace had six. And Cook, Currier and Dan Taylor — who had four assists — earned four points apiece for the Riggers.

Ryan Benesch had two goals and five points to pace the visitors, who just couldn’t keep up with the home side’s scoring prowess.

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“I think that our O definitely has this in them every single game,” added Currier. “We were just really focused going into this game. We were dialled in at practice. At shoot-around, we were dialled in. I think we were just ready to go, and we were excited to try to stack a win up, and we were happy to do it.

“That was huge for us. We know we have to start stacking some wins, and now we’ve got two in a row.”

They’ll go for three straight with a home tilt — again — next weekend against the Philadelphia Wings on Saturday at the Dome (7 p.m., TSN+).


Pace on his 100th NLL goal: “Let’s get a hundred more.” … Currier on his 100th NLL game: “It was nice to get a win on that game — that’s for sure. I’d say it probably made me think about my career a little bit more going into the game and everything going forward. It was a special game for sure.” … D Eli Salama (lower body) and F Logan Schuss (MCL/ACL) remained out indefinitely for the Roughnecks on Saturday night … The Riggers activated D Kieran McKay from the practice player list earlier this week, but he didn’t play … Also scratched by the Roughnecks was rookie D Bennett Smith.

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