There’s no one the Calgary Roughnecks would rather have with the game on the line than Shooter.
And Josh Sanderson delivered, just as he has ever since coming to Calgary through a trade with the Toronto Rock two years ago.
Just 54 seconds into overtime, Sanderson fired home the winner as the Riggers kept their hopes for a home playoff date alive by beating the Edmonton Rush 15-14 in a thriller before 9,432 fans at Rexall Place.
With either a Rush loss Saturday night in Everett against the first-place Washington Stealth or a Riggers win next Friday against the Colorado Mammoth, Calgary would claim second place in the West Division and open the first round at home.
If there is a rematch in the Battle of Alberta, it should be a doozy.
Sanderson and Dane Dobbie both had hat-tricks, while Kaleb Toth, Craig Conn and Curtis Manning each had a pair of goals in beating the Rush (9-6), who were undefeated in three overtime outings this season.
Tracey Kelusky and Rob Van Beek also had goals, while Mike Carnegie scored on a breakaway in the final minutes to send it to the extra session for the surging Riggers (9-6), who won their third in a row.
Transition star Brodie Merrill and rookie Corey Small each had hat-tricks for the Rush, who are headed to the playoffs for the first time in their franchise history.
Gavin Prout, Ryan Powell and Ryan Ward each had a pair of goals, while Dane Stevens and Andy Secore also tallied for Edmonton.
The Rush took a 11-10 lead into the fourth quarter but the home side took a too-many- men penalty and the visitors capitalized. Dobbie picked off a clearing pass and dished to Kelusky for a wide-open net to even it up.
That only held up for a minute as Prout notched his second to restore the one-goal advantage.
Merrill made it a two-goal game before Toth and Sanderson scored 25 seconds apart to tied it 13-13, but Merrill scored his hat-trick marker just six seconds after Sanderson’s goal to restore the one-goal lead.
Then the Riggers got a great effort from an unlikely hero, when Carnegie went in alone and bounced a shot through Matt Disher’s legs to force the extra session.
The teams were tied
2-2 after the first quarter and
8-8 at halftime in what was a shooting gallery in the opening 30 minutes.
The Rush managed to make the Riggers pay for a Mike Kilby major in the second quarter as both Prout and Small had powerplay goals.
Special teams once again weren’t great for the Riggers, who allowed the Rush five goals on eight powerplays, while Calgary went 3-of-7 on the man advantage.
Starting goalie Matt King left the game just 25 minutes in despite only giving up five goals on 26 shots, but Mike Poulin picked up his second relief victory in as many weeks as the Riggers topped their provincial rivals.