Roughnecks thump Swarm in home opener

Ian Busby, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:57 AM ET

CALGARY — Josh Sanderson fired a pass through traffic, hitting Jeff Shattler’s stick behind coverage for a beautiful breakaway goal.

Watching the scene unfold after the ball left his stick, Sanderson turned to teammates and gave a shrug.

The Calgary Roughnecks lefty had four goals in a 12-7 thumping of the Minnesota Swarm, but it was his assist on Shattler’s tally that was the turning point.

The goal put the Riggers up 8-6 and they were off and running for a convincing win in their home opener in front of 8,112 fans at the Saddledome.

“It was a nice catch,” said Sanderson, who had 10 points.

“I didn’t think he saw it until the last second. Shattler made a great catch and had even a better finish. It was a big goal for us.”

Shattler wasn’t even slated to be on the offensive end until just before game time because veteran Kaleb Toth couldn’t go due to a hamstring injury.

He wasn’t all that happy with his performance until that goal in the third quarter, but he credits Sanderson’s amazing vision to find him.

“The defender just followed me into the hole and probably didn’t think I could get a pass there,” said Shattler, who also had three helpers. “I couldn’t even put a ball on net before that.

“It was good to get the first one of the season and get the cobwebs out. It’s a big win but we can get a lot better.”

Scott Ranger scored a pair of goals, while Tracey Kelusky, Craig Conn, Jeff Moleski and Dane Dobbie had singles.

However, it was the defence and goaltending who had a more complete effort after the Riggers raised their championship banner from 2009 in a pre-game ceremony.

Through the first quarter and into the second, they didn’t have much offensive flow, but Minnesota didn’t get much going thanks to Calgary’s swarming defence.

“The defence and Matt (King, the goalie) were awesome when it was 2-2,” Sanderson said. “At the start of the third quarter we were a bit flat up front and they kept us at 7-6.

“We got our legs going again. We really put a good next 15 minutes in there.”

King, who starts a season as the No. 1 man for the first time in his nine-year NLL career, shut the door with several great saves in the fourth quarter, blanking the frame and letting his team run away with it.

He enjoyed being in the building for the banner-raising. After being with the team in 2004 for the first title, he was in Anaheim the following season.

“I wish we could have done it and not have to play a game,” said King, who improved to 8-0 in the regular season since rejoining the team last year.

“I enjoyed the montage and the banners go up. It was exciting.

“There is always butterflies. I’m in my ninth year and if I get to 17 or 18 years, I will still get them before games.

“It’s because I want to succeed and do well. I felt more comfortable in the fourth quarter. In the third, I let in three stoppable goals. The team really rallied and tightened up defensively. In the fourth quarter, I collected myself and played a bit better.”

Ryan Benesch and Aaron Wilson scored a pair each for the Swarm, while Andrew Watt, Sean Thomson and Callum Crawford also tallied.

The two teams meet again Friday in Minnesota, and the Riggers can clinch the season series with a win.

“We’re back at it Friday in their place and that’s why this one was so big,” Sanderson said.

ian.busby@sunmedia.ca


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