24 November 2001 at Calgary Roughnecks (Box Score)

Records shattered in Express' 32-17 romp
Montreal spoils debut of Calgary Roughnecks
Vaun Mehling (Outsider's Guide Game Correspondent)

In front of 9,517 Calgary fans, most attending their first-ever NLL game, the Montreal Express put a damper on the Roughnecks' inaugural outing Saturday afternoon, running away in a 32-17 decision that rewrote the league's record book.

Twenty-two seconds into the game, John Kilbride opened the scoring for the Roughnecks with the franchise's first-ever goal on a power play. From there, it only took ten minutes and fifty-five seconds following the spotlights, dry ice and roster announcements for the Express to make itself unwelcome at the Saddledome. After exchanging goals in the first few minutes of the opening frame, Joe Hiltz put the Express in the lead 4-3 with 4:45 left in the opening quarter. Montreal scored fast and furious after that, taking on six straight goals, causing Calgary goaltender Derek Collins to head to the bench. Matt King came in to relieve Collins at the Roughnecks' net, but by now, the 10-3 score reflected a lead that Montreal would never relinquish.

The second quarter of play saw each of the first six goals scored on power plays. Calgary had trouble with team defence and keeping Montreal from working the ball down low at the crease throughout the game. This was especially blatent when playing a man down. The Express also was able to capitalize on many fast break opportunities, leading to breakaways, catching the Roughnecks on line changes and/or the defense pinching in to far. Montreal goaltender Curtis Palidwor's six assists in the game shows how well he can handle the ball and start the transition from his crease. However, Calgary was able to generate a strong offence to match Montreal, with six goals apiece in the frame. The Roughnecks distributed those points amongst eight players showing some balance on offence, but at intermission, the score read Montreal 16, Calgary 9.

At 1:32 of the third quarter, emotions boiled over and fists flew. Once the dust had settled, Montreal's Shawn Parnell drew the aggressor penalty in the melee, for which the Express was assessed two fighting penalties and a game misconduct. Calgary, meanwhile, drew two fighting penalties and two game misconducts. Kaleb Toth switched roles as the hometown sniper to the team's heavyweight and showed a gift with the fists. The brawl, stemming from an incident earlier in the quarter, marked the most excitement out of the Calgary crowd since the Roughies game-tying goal in the first quarter. Calgary's frustration showed when the Roughnecks committed two separate high-sticking penalties on Tracey Kelusky. Calgary continued to change goaltenders, with King playing all of the third quarter. End of quarter: Express 23, Calgary 12.

Montreal continued to dominate the floor in the fourth quarter, persistently finding shooters in front of the Calgary crease. Collins had his hands full trying to stop the Express one-on-one without much support from his defence. Twice in the final frame, Montreal ran off four goals in a row.

Many records bit the dust this afternoon, including goals by one team (formerly 28, set in 1996 by the Buffalo Bandits and tied later that season by the Boston Blazers, in thumpings of the hapless Charlotte Cobras) and goals by two teams (in 1992, the Bandits defeated the Baltimore Thunder, 27-20, for a total of 47 goals). And then there were the penalty minutes -- 155 in all, another league record.

The penalties started early in the game and never slowed down. In total, Montreal received twenty-one penalties for 72 minutes, while Calgary was assessed fifteen penalties for 83 minutes. All these penalties, goals and television timeouts made the game feel much longer than it actually was.

Game Report reprinted with permission from The Outsider's Guide to the NLL. (Original text is here.)

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