The Calgary Roughnecks had the Toronto Rock on the ropes and all they had to do was stay out of the penalty box.
It didn’t happen.
The Rock used a deadly powerplay to beat the visitors 9-8 Friday night in front of 9,108 fans at the Air Canada Centre.
Through nearly 53 minutes, the Riggers allowed just one goal at even strength, but the Rock powerplay connected five times in six chances.
The most unsettling was Dane Dobbie taking a holding penalty with the Riggers up 6-5 five minutes into the fourth quarter.
Although Dobbie had a pair of goals in the frame, his penalty allowed the Rock to break a nearly 25-minute scoring drought.
“We were on a good roll, had the momentum and the flow but we took a penalty that ended up in the tying goal,” said Riggers coach Dave Pym.
“It’s great we got one right back but when you make a couple mistakes, those guys are great at capitalizing on those mistakes.
“We put them on the powerplay too much.”
The second-straight loss drops the Roughnecks to 6-6 and puts them further back of the Edmonton Rush for second place in the West Division.
The Rock break a five-game losing streak, improve to 7-6 and get a partial tie for first in the East Division.
Craig Conn scored a pair of goals against his former team, while Jeff Shattler had two for the Roughnecks.
Defender Peter McFetridge, playing just his third game this season, scored his third of the season, while Jeff Moleski also tallied off the back end.
The offence struggled for a second straight game playing without captain Tracey Kelusky and veteran forward Kaleb Toth. The Riggers went 0-for-3 on the powerplay.
“Those are a lot of goals we take out of the lineup but we have to find a way to deal with it,” Pym said. “It’s not like we didn’t generate quality chances. We just have to keep taking shots and they will start to fall.
“Both offences were being challenged to generate quality scoring chances. Both defences were dictating where the shots were coming from. Kudos to both for their effort. But five-on-five, we outplayed them.”
Rookie Stephan Leblanc was on fire for the Rock with four goals and three helpers. Fellow freshman Garrett Billings and veteran Blaine Manning each had a pair, while Geoff McNulty scored his first NLL goal to round out the home scoring.
The Riggers get a chance to rebound right away. They jumped on a bus after the game headed to Rochester for a meeting with the Knighthawks Saturday night (5:35 p.m., nll.com).
“At least we don’t have to sit on this one for a week,” Pym said. “We get right back at it and we can correct a few things that occurred in this game. I’m looking for a huge effort from the boys Saturday night and I hope we get it.”
There was at least a positive in that Mike Poulin rebounded from a bad start in goal last Friday against the Minnesota Swarm and made 45 saves on 54 shots.
“Mike gave us an opportunity to win,” Pym said. “He made some spectacular saves for us. That wasn’t an issue for us in this one.”