ROUGHNECKS (11-6) at STEALTH (4-12)
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Season series: The Calgary Roughnecks and Vancouver Stealth have met three times this season with the Riggers prevailing each time. Vancouver will try to avoid the season sweep against Calgary and are looking to seek revenge from a 13-8 setback on Mar. 21 at the Langley Events Centre.
Big Story: The Roughnecks and Stealth will each close out their regular seasons on Saturday. The game will have no consequence in the standings and will be the final game for the Stealth, who will miss the playoffs after making it to the Champions Cup final three of the last four years.
Roughnecks: Calgary is coming off one of their biggest victories of the season — a 14-13 overtime win over the Edmonton Rush last weekend, only the second loss of the season for the Rush and their first at home.
For the Roughnecks, it was a game that would set the tone moving into the final week of the regular season and into the playoffs.
“It was huge for us. They are the team that they are—they’re obviously the team to beat,” Geoff Snider said. “For us, it’s just so important to be able to focus on what we do to have success. The shoe was definitely on the other foot in the past as we’ve always kind of taken it to them and it just shows the type of progress that they’ve made as an organization.
“The game, although meant nothing, standings wise, meant a lot to us as a playoff team and it was important for us to crank it up moving forward into the playoffs.”
Curtis Dickson put on a goal-scoring clinic, striking seven times against Edmonton, including the overtime winner to lift the Riggers to their first win over the Rush in four tries.
“He was shooting the ball well, he had some good looks and he was feeling it,” Roughnecks head coach Curt Malawsky said of the 25-year-old right-handed shot. “It was a testament to our guys offensively to make sure that they created some space for him and we were able to get him the ball in the prime scoring areas. When he gets a chance one-on-one with goaltenders he’s pretty successful.”
Dickson, who reached the 40-goal plateau for the third consecutive season, moved into third place amongst goal scorers in the NLL with 41, just seven behind the leader—Dane Dobbie of the Roughnecks.
“He had a great game … when you talk about playoffs, you need your best players to be your best players,” Malawsky said. “That was like a playoff atmosphere game and he’s one of our best guys and he rose to the challenge.
“It just shows that he’s getting better and better as things go on and we look forward to him having a big finish to the season and pushing forward into playoffs.”
Although the game against Vancouver doesn’t mean much, Malawsky is confident it will still be a tough challenge for his group.
“If you look up and down that Stealth roster, it screams character,” Malawsky said. “I’ve coached a few [guys on the Stealth] and battled against a lot of them over the years and there’s no quit in that group. We expect an intense, physical game—which we’ve had over the years against the Stealth time and time again.”
Stealth: After challenging for the Champions Cup last season, Vancouver will miss the playoffs following a disappointing 2014 campaign. The Stealth were eliminated from playoff contention last weekend after the Colorado Mammoth upended the Minnesota Swarm, 18-12 to secure the final spot in the West Division.
The Vancouver franchise relocated from Washington last summer and Stealth head coach Chris Hall stressed the importance of finishing the season strong.
“We’re at a point where we need to show the fans that [our] team has character and there’s no quit in the team and that we need to be [in Vancouver] a long time,” Hall said. “We want to establish a quality franchise. It’s been an unfortunate start for a variety of reasons and yet we’ve had really good support from our fans, they’ve been loyal to us. We need to show them that the time and money that they invest in supporting us is well spent and that we aim to be a quality franchise with players that have passion to play the game and we intent to be there a long time.”
Vancouver hasn’t had much success against Calgary this season and Hall knows that the Roughnecks would like to enter the post-season on a high note.
“They’re going to be playing in a huge playoff game the following week—you really don’t want to be taking your foot off the gas when you know you’re facing that in another seven days,” Hall said of the Roughnecks. “They have to be looking to peak and ramping up for that playoff game so you can’t take a night off and expect to turn it on seven days later.
“You’ve got to keep the engine running at full speed at this time of year. I would expect they will playoff-prepped and working to get ready for next week.”
Who’s hot: Curtis Dickson has 10 goals and 13 points in his last three games. … Dane Dobbie has 48 markers on the season and can break the Roughnecks single season record of 50, set by Lewis Ratcliff in 2007. … Stealth sniper Lewis Ratcliff has 12 points in his last three games. … Rhys Duch has eight assists in his past two contests.