Roughnecks beat up Bandits

Ryan McNish from the Calgary Roughnecks scraps with Brandon Francis from the Buffalo Bandits in NLL...

Ryan McNish from the Calgary Roughnecks scraps with Brandon Francis from the Buffalo Bandits in NLL action in Calgary on Saturday, March 24, 2012. (Stuart Dryden/QMI Agency)

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:05 AM ET

CALGARY - Old No. 17 was in the building, but it didn’t matter.

New No. 17 took control from the opening faceoff.

Oh, and the guy the Calgary Roughnecks ended up getting for former captain Tracey Kelusky isn’t too bad either.

Curtis Dickson had a natural hat-trick to open the game, while Shawn Evans piled up seven assists in a nine-point outing as the Riggers whipped the Buffalo Bandits 17-6 Saturday night in front of 7,687 spectators in the Saddledome.

Kelusky spent eight seasons with the Roughnecks, helping them to two Champion’s Cup titles, but there wasn’t much nostalgia for him in his second return trip to the Saddledome.

The Riggers built a five-goal first-quarter lead and kept that edge throughout, finally exploding in the fourth quarter to make it ugly.

“It’s pretty embarrassing, to be honest,” Kelusky said.

“I believe in everyone in our locker-room and I know we’re capable of a lot more than this. We will move on.

“It was great to come back in a building I had a lot of memories in but you need to feed of one another’s emotion. I don’t think anybody on our team had it tonight.”

When Kelusky was traded before 2011 season, it was seen as a risky move.

They got back a first-round draft pick and selecting a young player is a crapshoot.

However, as that pick was approaching during the draft last fall, the Riggers flipped it to the Rochester Knighthawks for Evans, a proven six-year veteran.

The move turned out to be a great one.

Evans has become a key part of an offence that was solid even a year ago when both Kelusky and Josh Sanderson had departed.

“He’s awesome,” Dickson said.

“He’s everywhere on the floor. He’s banging bodies and getting inside. It’s a crucial piece to this puzzle. He’s a great guy off the floor, which is nice, too.”

It also helped that Dickson came on board and won NLL rookie of the year as a first-round pick himself.

The Port Coquitlam, B.C., native has developed into a premier goal scorer wearing No. 17, which he does because his father and grandfather both wore it in their playing days.

Dickson finished with four points, while Dane Dobbie and Scott Ranger also had hat-tricks.

Daryl Veltman had a pair while Mike Carnegie, Jeff Shattler, Travis Cornwall and Peter McFetridge also lit the lamp.

The Roughnecks put on this offensive display without assistant coach Curt Malawsky, who missed because of the flu.

Illness and personal commitments also kept defenders Dan MacRae and Mike Kilby from suiting up, but the losses didn’t slow down the surging Riggers (8-3).

“It was a real gutsy effort and an incredible win for the team,” head coach Dave Pym said.

“It’s nice to see (the killer instinct). We’ve been trying to do that all year. We want to keep the foot on the pedal.”

Kelusky managed just two assists for the Bandits.

John Tavares and Luke Wiles each had hat-tricks but the visiting offence had no real answer for the goaltending of Mike Poulin, who made 27 saves.

It’s the second time the Riggers have won by 11 this season after whipping the Colorado Mammoth in Denver a few weeks ago.

Since losing to the Minnesota Swarm at home March 3, they have dominated fourth quarters and put the hammer down in three straight games.

“Overall, I don’t look at the points,” said Evans, who was two off the franchise record.

“I just look at the team win and how hard we played. We showed a lot of heart. We kept going and we stuck together. We’re on the verge of taking the next step towards playoffs.

“It’s such a good feeling to be part of this team.”


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