Roughnecks holding off Rush

TY PILSON -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 1:24 PM ET

EDMONTON -- Apparently two games in two days made it tough for the Calgary Roughnecks to stay awake last night.

Either that or someone must have slipped something into the water bottles on their bench.

The Roughnecks nodded off and almost blew an 11-4 lead after three quarters but held on for a 12-9 victory over the expansion Edmonton Rush in National Lacrosse League action last night at Rexall Place.

The Roughnecks -- who improved to 2-1 -- won after getting skunked 12-8 Friday night at the 'Dome by the second-year Minnesota Swarm.

The Rush -- which lost 11-9 to Calgary in the Riggers' season-opener at the 'Dome Jan. 6 -- fell to 0-3.

Although last night's victory still left plenty of room for improvement, the defence was better, goalie Curtis Palidwor stood tall in the pipes and most importantly, Calgary's struggling offence showed signs of life.

Calgary captain Tracey Kelusky led the Roughnecks with three goals and seven points and said last night's game -- even with the late lapse -- was a still a marked improvement for his club.

"For the most part, our intensity level was 100 times better," said Kelusky, who came into the tilt with only three goals on 32 shots this season. "We have to get back to basics to be successful. We do have the talent but we have to be gritty, we have to control the loose balls and we have to battle every inch we're getting both offensively and defensively and I think we did a good job doing that for three quarters."

Roughnecks defender Andrew McBride said the team was still smarting from their loss to Minnesota and used it as motivation.

"It was pretty embarrassing when you play at home and you're home crowd is booing you," said McBride. "Guys took it really personally and we set a goal of coming out fired up and playing a better game and we did for the most part."

The Riggers Trio Grande -- Kelusky, Lewis Ratcliff and Kaleb Toth -- combined for six goals and 19 points in the victory.

Another high note for Calgary was its resurgent powerplay. The club -- which had the second-best powerplay in the league last year at just over 50% -- was only 4-17 this season but connected on three of six chances last night.

The turning point in the game came in the third quarter when the Roughnecks killed off their second two-man disadvantage of the game and followed it up by scoring four goals -- including two only 30 seconds apart -- to build the 11-4 lead going into the final frame.

Kelusky and Jason Wulder had hat-tricks while Toth and Kevin Dostie added a pair each. Kyle Goundrey and Ratcliff had singles.

Kerry Susheski, Tyler Heavenor and Jimmy Quinlan each had a pair for Edmonton while Randy Daly, Chris Stachniak and Brad Dairon also scored for the Rush.

With the game tied at two, Kelusky opened the scoring in the second quarter on a highlight-reel backhand. Kelusky added another goal and then Calgary scored three straight to lead 7-4 at the half.

Calgary heads out on the road for a pair of games next weekend in Phoenix against the Arizona Sting Friday then Portland Saturday to face the expansion Lumberjax.


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