CALGARY - Ryan Ward led the way with five goals and six assists as the Edmonton Rush upset the first place Calgary Roughnecks 19-11 on Saturday night in a National Lacrosse League West semifinal.
Calgary entered the post-season the No. 1 seed overall after a 12-4 regular season while Edmonton had the worst record of the NLL's eight playoff teams at 6-10. During the last two seasons, Calgary had dominated Edmonton winning all eight meetings.
It was only two years ago when Edmonton upset Calgary in the Rush's only previous playoff win. Once again they saved their best game for when it mattered most, jumping out to a 6-2 first quarter lead and never looking back.
Corey Small also had a big night offensively for Edmonton with five goals and three assists. Tom Johnson scored three times, Zack Greer scored twice, while Aaron Wilson, Shawn Williams, Jim Quinlan and John LaFontaine rounded out the scoring.
Scott Ranger led Calgary with four goals. Dane Dobbie scored three times while Shawn Evans and Jeff Shattler had two goals each.
Edmonton outshot Calgary 58-51, and Rush goaltender Aaron Bold had 40 saves for the victory.
Fifteen goals was the most the Roughnecks had given up in a game during the season.
Edmonton travels to Minnesota next weekend to take on the Swarm, who upset the Colorado Mammoth 14-10 in the other West semifinal.
The Rush did a superb job early in the game of shutting down Calgary's high-scoring offence and scoring opportunistic goals themselves, which quieted the Scotiabank Saddledome crowd of 11,161.
Roughnecks goaltender Mike Poulin, who missed the last two games of the regular season with a lower-body injury, got the start for the Roughnecks but didn't make it through the first quarter. Coach Dave Pym replaced Poulin with rookie Frankie Scigliano with 1:24 remaining after goals 29 seconds apart from Edmonton increased the Rush's lead to 6-2.
Calgary trailed the rest of the night. The closest they would come to getting back to even was when Ranger scored 53 seconds into the third quarter to cut the Roughnecks' lead to 9-7.
However, goals by Small, Ward and Johnson in a span of less than three minutes restored Edmonton's lead to five goals and resulted in another goaltending change with Poulin returning to the net. Scigliano surrendered six goals on 13 shots in his 21-plus minutes.
This goalie change sparked the home side temporarily as the climbed back to within three goals. However, Edmonton got a huge goal in the final minute of the third quarter.
Lafontaine's shot that caromed off the cross bar and straight down, landing just inside the goal-line, was not ruled a goal initially as play carried on. However, Edmonton coach Derek Keenan threw the challenge flag and after review it was confirmed as a goal, once again quieting the raucous building.
In its first game at home in nearly a month, Calgary opened the scoring on Ranger's power-play goal at 1:21. The Roughnecks' only lead of the night was short lived as Edmonton stormed back with the next four goals to surge in front 4-1 by the 10-minute mark.
After the Rush had put the game away with three goals late in the fourth quarter, tempers flared on the home side and a series of fights ended the game in the final two minutes.
Notes: Second-year Calgary forward Curtis Dickson (upper body) did not play. Dickson, who recorded hat-tricks against Edmonton in his first six games against them, was hurt against the Rush in the final game of the regular season. Also not available to the Roughnecks was D Jon Harnett (upper body). … Among the scratches for Edmonton was Scott Evans, older brother of Calgary's Shawn Evans, whose 23 goals ranked him second on the team during the regular season. … Calgary's all-time regular season record against Edmonton is 20-4.