CALGARY - In what felt like a heavyweight fight, the Rochester Knighthawks and Calgary Roughnecks slugged it out offensively before forward Dan Dawson delivered the knockout punch.
Dawson capped off his 11-point night with the go-ahead goal, his third of the night, late in the fourth quarter as Rochester picked up an important 15-14 victory.
With three minutes left, Dawson made a nice cut to the middle, leaving two Roughnecks flat on the floor and sent his third goal of the night past goaltender Mike Poulin to make it 14-13.
"It's a great win for us. It's nice to know that we can battle," said Dawson. "It was a shootout tonight and our offence has been struggling all season so it was nice to put up some numbers."
Dawson then set up an insurance goal from Craig Point just over a minute later. Point's goal would be the winner as Calgary responded with Curtis Dickson's second of the night with 18 seconds left.
"That was one of Dan's better games for us this year," said Rochester coach Mike Hasen. "We needed him and he came through."
Calgary got the ball off the ensuing faceoff but in the frantic final few seconds, Dickson's final shot just before the buzzer bounced wide.
"We're two good teams and we put a good show on tonight," said Shawn Evans, who had three goals and seven assists for Calgary. "We had a great game. Unfortunately, we came up one goal short but it's a positive for us how good we did play tonight."
Cody Jamieson and Cody Vitarelli had three goals each for Rochester (7-7). Mike Accursi and Johnny Powless had two goals apiece. Joel McCready scored once for the Knighthawks, who have won three of their last four. They've also won four of their last five away from home.
Jeff Shattler led Calgary (8-7) with four goals. Dane Dobbie had a hat trick with Geoff Snider and Travis Cornwall also scoring.
The game played before Calgary's biggest crowd of the season, a raucous 12,340, was an important one with playoff implications for both teams.
Rochester, the defending NLL champions, entered the night in a three-way fight with Philadelphia and Buffalo for second place in the East Division. With the possibility of the fifth place team from the West crossing over, a playoff spot had yet to be clinched.
"We needed this because we're not in yet ourselves so we had to take care of things for us," said Hasen.
Calgary entered the weekend in a three-way tie with Washington and Edmonton for first place in the West. The Stealth lost also temporarily leaving Edmonton alone on top.
"I'm really proud that my guys went to war and battled hard and they should be proud of their efforts," said Calgary coach Curt Malawsky. "By no means are we accepting losing as an okay thing, but it was a great effort by everyone involved."
The next opponent for both teams is Edmonton. Rochester plays the Rush on Sunday afternoon while Calgary wraps up its season in Edmonton next Saturday.
"In the past we've ran through the league then lost in the first round," said Shattler. "So this is a great building experience for us, even though we lost. I felt like we did a lot of good things on the floor."
The exciting game saw the Knighthawks take the lead six times while Calgary jumped in front five times — in all cases but the last, the other team answered right back and tied it.
"Our offence did a dynamite job," said Hasen. "They got a bunch of runs on us and every time, they would go back and stick one in the net to stop the runs. It was good to see. We've had some offensive struggles but tonight wasn't one."
Calgary opened up the fourth quarter with goals from Dickson, Cornwall and Shattler in less than three minutes to open up its second two-goal lead, but the Knighthawks stormed back with three goals of their own.
It was a potentially costly game for the Roughnecks as Dobbie, the team's leading scorer, was injured in the third quarter. It occurred on the same play in which he scored his team-leading 40th goal. Dobbie was not putting any weight on his right leg as he was helped off and he was clutching his head in what appeared to be a mix of pain and frustration.
"He's gone to hospital. It looks like his knee is fine," said Malawsky. "They were just going up for a precautionary X-Ray up there. We're hoping that it's something that he can play through."
Notes: Evans is closing in on the Roughnecks record for points in a season at 104, held by Lewis Ratcliff and Josh Sanderson. Evans has 31 goals and 71 assists so is two points back with one game to go.. Calgary Geoff Snider had 15 loose balls to surpass 1500 in his career… Rochester wins for the first time in Calgary in three tries… Rochester improves to 4-3 all-time against Calgary…Rochester wraps up its season with another road game, this one in Buffalo on April 20.