Saturday, May 08, 2004

Calgary Roughnecks win Champions Cup




The Calgary Roughnecks defeated the Buffalo Bandits, 14-11, in front of a sellout crowd of 19,209 fans at the Pengrowth Saddledome on Friday night in the National Lacrosse League Champion's Cup Final. Curtis Palidwor was named Championship Game MVP with 41 saves. The Roughnecks used a balanced attack, with nine different goal scorers, including four defensemen. Lewis Ratcliffe scored three goals and added an assist to lead the Roughnecks, while Jesse Phillips also added a hat-trick, including the game-winning goal.

The sellout crowd certainly played a factor, as the Roughnecks won their first-ever Championship in only their third season. The win also marked a first in Calgary professional sports history; the Roughnecks were the first team to win a Championship while playing at home in Calgary.

Ted Dowling scored two goals and two assists in his final NLL game. Dowling and Tyson Leies (2A) announced they will retire after this season.

Kaleb Toth (1G, 4A), Kyle Goundrey (1G, 2A), Tracey Kelusky (1G, 1A), Grant Hamilton (1G), Brad MacArthur (1G) and Andrew McBride (1G) each scored a goal apiece for Calgary. MacArthur and Rob Kirkby dominated in the faceoff circle, winning 20 of 29 draws.

Buffalo was led by John Tavares (3G, 3A) and Mike Accursi (3G, 1A). Jason Crosbie was Buffalo's playmaker, recording four assists. Pat McCready scored two goals, both on breakaways, while Mark Steenhuis (1G, 2A), Neal Powless (1G, 1A), and Jonas Derks (1G) added singles for Buffalo. Steve Dietrich was impressive in goal, recording 45 saves.

Buffalo jumped out to an early lead, with a pair of power-play goals early in the game. John Tavares scored the first goal of the game only 51 seconds in, and Mike Accursi followed it up to put the Bandits up 2-0. Ted Dowling put Calgary on the board with an outside shot, however, Buffalo answered back with another pair of goals to make the score 4-1. Steenhuis dove through the crease to score, and Neal Powless beat Palidwor with the outside shot to close out the first quarter.

The second quarter was a different story, as the Roughnecks scored six consecutive goals to take command of the game. Ted Dowling started the barrage with a power-play marker, and Lewis Ratcliff scored two straight to tie the game at four. Jesse Phillips gave the Roughnecks their first lead of the game with a breakaway goal, putting Calgary up 5-4. Kyle Goundrey scored on a rebound, and Kaleb Toth scored Calgary's third power-play goal of the game to make the score 7-4. John Tavares cut the score to 7-5 at the half with an outside shot, but Calgary clearly dominated the quarter, outscoring Buffalo 6-1.

The Roughnecks came out of the locker room on fire. Veteran defensemen Grant Hamilton and Brad MacArthur scored to put the Roughnecks up 9-4, but Buffalo was able to capitalize on a 5-on-3 power play, as Mike Accursi put the ball past Palidwor. Andrew McBride scored from the defensive end, and Lewis Ratcliff followed it up by powering past the Bandits defense to complete his hat-trick. Pat McCready cut the Roughnecks lead to 11-7 with a breakaway goal with eight seconds remaining in the quarter.

Buffalo started the fourth quarter determined, with Mike Accursi, Jonas Derks and Pat McCready each scoring to cut the lead to 11-10. However, Jesse Phillips answered back, scoring the eventual game-winner, as the ball trickled past Dietrich to make the score 12-10. John Tavares cut the lead back to a goal with a goal with 3:10 remaining, but Tracey Kelusky answered back with a goal only 34 seconds later. Calgary was able to run out the clock, and Jesse Phillips completed his hat-trick with an empty net goal with 3.8 seconds remaining to bring the 19,209 fans to their feet at the Saddledome.

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