Adam Jones scored 1:16 into overtime to lift the Saskatchewan Rush to their sixth straight win of the season as they topped the arch-rival Calgary Roughnecks 12-11 in Saskatoon on Saturday night.
The Rush (6-2) forced a turnover deep in Calgary territory allowing Jeff Cornwall the opportunity to spot Jones alone in front of the net and he slipped a shot inside the far post past Roughnecks goalie Christian Del Bianco to the delight of the sold-out crowd of 15,045 at SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon. Saskatchewan's win was also their sixth consecutive regular-season victory over Roughnecks, and ninth overall when including the playoffs over the past two seasons.
"We put on some tremendous pressure and it was a great look by Jeff," said Jones. "My go-to shot is usually five-hole but that hadn't worked all night so I decided to go far corner and it squeaked in."
On top of the run of futility against their main rivals, the Roughnecks (3-5) have also now lost four in a row this season.
Calgary took a 3-2 lead into the second quarter and jumped ahead by two on a power-play tally from Wes Berg. A breakaway goal by Cornwall got the Rush back to within one but the Roughnecks answered with back-to-back highlight reel goals by Dane Dobbie and Tyler Digby to go up 6-3. Dobbie went behind his back with a tricky shot that bounced between the legs of Rush goalie Aaron Bold. Digby then took a terrific flip pass from Curtis Dickson and put an off-speed shot past Bold. Digby's second of the quarter and third of the night put the Roughnecks up 7-4 but the Rush rebounded when Ben McIntosh put a perfect quick-stick effort away on the power play and then lasered a shot past Del Bianco to make it 7-6 before halftime.
The Roughnecks stormed out of the gates in the second half and vaulted ahead 9-6 on goals 1:20 apart by Jeff Shattler and Dobbie. But Saskatchewan fought its way back when Marty Dinsdale scooted into open space and picked the top corner. McIntosh then clicked for the hat trick as he finished off a strong rush to the net by Mark Matthews.
Saskatchewan got even at 9-9 early in the third quarter when rookie Mike Messenger went off on a solo dash down the floor in transition, rumbled towards the Calgary net, and then beat Del Bianco high. Robert Church put the Rush on top for the first time since the opening quarter when he took a behind-the-net pass from Matthews and wiped in a shot. The Roughnecks equaled things up at 10-10 on a two-man advantage when Berg bounced a shot behind Bold for his hat-trick goal. Just 34 seconds later and the teams playing 4-on-4, Church collected his hat trick to make it 11-10 for the Rush, but Calgary forced overtime when Berg put in his fourth of the night with 1:51 remaining in regulation time as his deflected shot eluded Bold.
The victory was the Rush's first of the season after trailing after the third quarter, while the setback was the Roughnecks' first road loss of the season after winning their first two.
Matthews paced the Rush with seven points (1 goal, 6 assists), while Church (3 goals, 1 assist) and Jones (1 goal, 3 assists) each totaled four points. Berg had six points (4 goals, 2 assists) for the Roughnecks with Dobbie adding in five (2 goals, 3 assists).
Bold racked up 34 saves in the Saskatchewan net, with four of his best on the night coming in the fourth quarter. The Rush netminder also kept his team alive in overtime with a clutch stop on Dickson. Del Bianco totaled 35 saves for the Roughnecks.
Saskatchewan will look to extend their its winning streak next Saturday on the road against the Vancouver Stealth, while Calgary will look to end its slump on Friday in Colorado against the Mammoth.