Switch spurs comeback

IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:32 AM ET

The Calgary Roughnecks can breath a sigh of relief thanks to the bullpen.

Goalie Pat Campbell came off the bench last night to help settle things down as the Riggers erased a six-goal deficit and beat the Rochester Knighthawks 12-9 in front of 10,098 fans at the Saddledome.

The win ensures the Riggers (10-3) a home playoff date and gives them a commanding lead atop the West Division.

They hold a one-game lead on the entire National Lacrosse League and can clinch home-floor advantage throughout the playoffs by winning out.

Starter Matt King allowed four goals on nine shots before getting the hook, but the Knighthawks built a 7-1 lead before the Riggers offence awoke on a powerplay. The home team outscored their opponents 11-2 after 8:20 was gone in the second quarter.

"We know we can win games, and we usually win them dominantly from start to finish," said Campbell, who made 31 saves on 36 shots.

"A character win like this is big for us right before playoffs because we know we get back in a game like that.

"It's a good time of year to have a game like that."

Captain Tracey Kelusky scored the first three goals for the Riggers, with the second and third coming on a two-minute five-on-three.

That gave the Riggers life, and defender Jeff Shattler scored the first of what would be a hat-trick performance to cut the lead to 7-4 at halftime.

Shattler scored twice in the fourth quarter -- once just 18 seconds after the Knighthawks got back on the board with their eighth goal -- as the Riggers dominated the final 37 minutes.

The slow start was the second straight at home for Calgary, which lost a week ago to Toronto at the Saddledome.

"They were lucky at the start, but we battled back and that was all that mattered," Shattler said.

"I don't want to think about the start because we came in at half and said we were going to win this game.

"We're a championship team this year, and by that I mean we stick together when we're down. These are the games we have to win. We've had big leads before, but it showed something to come back from six down."

The loss drops Rochester to 6-7 and into a dogfight for a playoff position in the East Division.

The Knighthawks gutted out a 12-8 win over the Colorado Mammoth Friday night in Denver, but they ran out of gas against the Riggers.

Kelusky finished with four goals, while Josh Sanderson had two goals and six assists to lead the Riggers offence.

Kaleb Toth had two goals and two assists, while Dane Dobbie also scored for the Roughnecks, who have won two in a row and four of their last five.

They have three games remaining before the playoffs begin in their building.

As for who will be the starting goalie, Campbell gives the nod to King, who has made six straight starts but was pulled in two of the last three outings.

"I'm comfortable in my position on the bench," Campbell said. "When Matt is hot, he gives us our best chance to win. Hopefully, we get him back in the saddle and cruise through the playoffs.

"I spent 12 years backing guys up, usually coming in at half. It's a real comfortable position for me to come in. The boys started to play well for me there. I think Rochester got worn down. I'm glad I wasn't in when Matt was."

Without big guns John Grant Jr. and legend Gary Gait, the Knighthawks got their offence from Shawn Evans and Shawn Williams.

Evans had two goals and five assists, while Williams had two markers and four helpers.

Craig Point, Andrew Spack, Dean Hill, Jason Henhawk and Jamie Rooney also scored for the visitors.

IAN.BUSBY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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