It started with two heavyweight bouts but then the Calgary Roughnecks kept absorbing massive haymakers.
And the defending National Lacrosse League champion Washington Stealth hit the Riggers where it hurt most — on the scoreboard.
The Stealth ran up the score to the tune of 19-14 in a game that looked like it would erupt into a full-on donnybrook at any moment.
The 9,362 spectators at the Saddledome barely had a chance to get into their seats before the hatred broke out.
It was clear from the opening faceoff these two teams had enough of each other already.
On a rush, Roughnecks transition Geoff Snider went in and fired a shot on goal, and he didn’t bother to stop. He crashed hard into Stealth goalie Tyler Richards, drawing a crowd, of course.
Snider squared off with Matt Beers — his sparring partner all game — while Mike Kilby came to the defence of his teammate and ended up battling Stealth defender Chris O’Dougherty in an epic tilt that lasted at least three minutes.
To end the first half, there was more bad blood, also started by Snider.
Once again, it was Beers in the middle, but the pushing and shoving continue from the penalty box to the bench where the coaches from both sides started screaming at each other.
Snider and Beers tussled against in the waning minutes, but it was a short confrontation and the hometown boy left as Sweet Caroline blasted through the Dome.
Between the scraps, the vaunted Roughnecks defence had no answer for Luke Wiles.
Wiles had five goals and five helpers to dominate the offensive zone, the biggest marker a diving shot in the fourth quarter to kill any homeside momentum.
Former Riggers Craig Conn (four goals) and Lewis Ratcliff (two goals and four assists) had great nights in rubbing it in Calgary’s face.
Rhys Duch also had four goals, while Cam Sedgwick scored twice, and defenders Jason Bloom and Mike Grimes also tallied for the Stealth, who improve to 2-2.
The Roughnecks put up some numbers, as well, but they were only within one goal once, when Scott Ranger scored to open the third quarter.
Ranger finished with four goals and two assists, but he couldn’t lift his team closer as the Stealth ran away with it in the fourth quarter.
The highlight of the second half — other than numerous fights — was Kaleb Toth getting his 300th goal in a Calgary uniform.
Toth finished with a hat-trick, as did Jeff Shattler, while Dane Dobbie, Snider and Mark Scherman also put the ball behind Richards.
Cory Conway picked up a late goal, making it a four-point night, but then he proceeded to scrap with Kyle Hartzell to hit the showers.
Special teams were the difference for the visitors, who put up five powerplay goals and added one while shorthanded.
The Riggers had a scary moment in the first quarter when Ranger was hit square in the back by a Daryl Veltman shot.
Ranger, who was trying to move out of the way of a different shooter, took the ball in the middle of his spine and stayed down for several minutes. He did stay in the game, however.
The damage could have been much worse in the first quarter, as Roughnecks head coach Dave Pym successfully challenged a goal by former Calgary defender Jeff Moleski.
The one highlight of the opening 30 minutes for the home side was the first Riggers goal by forward Scherman.
Making his second start this season, both against the Stealth, the Calgary product broke through to the slot and fired a blast off the far post and into the mesh.