BEST FOOT FORWARD: The Calgary Roughnecks (11-6) will attempt to finish the 2014 National Lacrosse League season on a winning note when they face the Vancouver Stealth (4-12) on Saturday night (8 p.m.) at the Langley Events Centre. The Riggers will be looking to build upon last weekend’s 14-13 overtime road win over the NLL-leading Edmonton Rush. “It’s nice for us to get some guys who needed a little bit of a rest last weekend back in the lineup and we’re looking to put our best foot forward and carry on into the playoffs,” said Calgary coach Curt Malawsky. “We’re looking at this as getting our full complement of guys on the floor and looking to go forward as if it’s a playoff game. It will be a great night and we’re looking forward to playing in front of the fans in Vancouver.” Vancouver coach Chris Hall has stressed how important it is for his squad to put on a good show in front of the faithful Stealth fans. “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 and we want to establish a quality franchise,” Hall said. “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.”
PLAYOFF PRIMER: Having already clinched second spot in the West Division, the Roughnecks found out who they would face in the first round of the NLL playoffs last weekend. Thanks to an 18-12 road win over the Minnesota Swarm last Saturday, the Colorado Mammoth (7-10) clinched third spot in the West Division. In the opening round of the playoffs, the Riggers will have home-field advantage over the Mammoth when the two teams face off against each other at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday, May 3 (7 p.m.). “They’re a formidable opponent,” Malawsky said. “They’ve a very, very sound team. They don’t give you anything for free so it’s going to be a battle. My guess is that it’ll be a one-goal game either way.” The winner will then move on to play the Rush in a two-game series with the victor advancing to the NLL Champion’s Cup series.
DICKSON DELIVERS: Curtis Dickson did his part last Saturday to make sure that the Roughnecks didn’t go winless against the Rush this season. Dickson scored seven times, including the game-winning goal at 4:13 of overtime, to lead the ’Necks to a thrilling 14-13 victory over the Rush at Edmonton’s Rexall Place. “It’s obviously nice, especially to do it against these guys,” said Dickson of his seven-game outburst. “They’re the best defence in the league. They held me scoreless and to one goal for a couple games this year, so it’s nice to be able to hang seven on them. It’s a big team win and a big confidence boost for us heading into the final week of the season and into the playoffs.” Shawn Evans had a hat trick and three helpers in the OT win, while Daryl Veltman and Dane Dobbie chipped in with a goal and six assists each. Jeff Shattler had a goal and an assist and Geoff Snider also scored. Jon Harnett had three assists, while Scott Ranger had a pair of helpers. Frankie Scigliano started in net for Calgary and made 28 saves before being replaced by Mike Poulin, who stopped 10 of 11 shots he faced, including four in overtime, to record his 11th win of the season. Chris Corbeil and Mark Matthews paced the Rush attack with three goals and an assist each, while Robert Church (2g, 2a), Zack Greer (2g, 1a), Curtis Knight (1g, 3a), Jarrett Davis (1g, 2a) and Jeff Cornwall (1g, 1a) also hit the scoresheet. Aaron Bold kept his team in the game with 33 saves until Dickson cut to the slot and fired a sidearm shot past the Edmonton goalie to win the game for Calgary.
TRIPLE THREAT: Calgary has already come out on top on three occasions against Vancouver this season. Evans and Dobbie had big nights to lead the Riggers to victory over the Stealth at the ’Dome on Jan. 18. Evans had a hat trick to go with six assists, while Dobbie scored five times and set up another. Veltman also had a hat trick to go with two helpers for the ’Necks, while Shattler had two goals and three assists. Dickson (1g, 2a), Mike Carnegie (1g, 1a) and Ranger (4a) also had multi-point performances. Poulin finished with 28 saves to backstop Calgary to the win. Rhys Duch led the Stealth attack with a hat trick and two assists, while Lewis Ratcliff scored twice and set up another. Jeff Moleski, Cliff Smith, Tyler Digby, Mike Grimes, Billy Hostrawser, Nick Weiss and Tyler Garrison also scored for Vancouver, while goalie Tyler Richards finished the game with 45 saves. The ’Necks also beat the Stealth 20-9 at home on Feb. 15. Evans led the way for the Riggers with four goals and seven assists. Dobbie (4g, 4a) and Shattler (2g, 6a) both finished with eight points, while Dickson had three goals and two helpers. Snider also had a hat trick and added a pair of assists, while Karsen Leung (1g, 1a), Veltman (1g, 1a), Matthew Dinsdale (1g, 1a) and Curtis Manning (1g) rounded out the scoring. Brett Bucktooth (3g, 1a), Duch (4a), Ratcliff (2g, 1a) and Digby (1g, 2a) led the Stealth attack, while Cody Bremner, Weiss and Garrison also scored. Poulin stopped 28 of 36 shots for the victory, with Scigliano making three saves in relief. Richards and Matt Roik split time for the Stealth, with both making 18 saves in the loss. The last time the two teams met, Calgary downed Vancouver 13-8 at the Langley Events Centre. Dobbie led the offensive attack for the Riggers with four goals and four assists, while Dickson had a hat trick and three helpers. Evans had a goal and three assists, while Veltman (2g, 2a), Snider (1g, 2a), Dinsdale (1g, 2a) and Shattler (1g, 1a) also scored. Poulin finished the game with 45 stops to record the win. Ratcliff finished with three goals and three assists for the Stealth in a losing effort. Duch scored twice and set up two others, while Bucktooth (1g, 2a), Digby (1g, 1a) and Jamie Lincoln (1g, 1a) also hit the scoresheet. Roik and Richards split time in the Vancouver net, making a combined 36 saves in defeat.
ROUGHNECKS VS. STEALTH: The Roughnecks went 1-2 against the Washington Stealth in the 2013 regular season before losing 14-13 to the Everett-based squad at home in the NLL’s West Final. In the off-season, the Stealth relocated to the Greater Vancouver area, where they play their home games out of the Langley Events Centre. After suffering a 16-14 setback to Washington at Everett’s Comcast Arena to start the 2013 season on Feb. 23, the Riggers responded with a 13-11 road win over the Stealth on March 30. The Stealth then edged the ’Necks 12-11 at the ’Dome on April 6 to win the season series. Evans paced the Roughnecks in scoring during the three-game set with four goals and 14 assists, while Dickson led all players with 10 goals to go with one assist. Dobbie scored seven goals to go with eight assists in the three games against Washington, while Shattler (7g, 6a), Ranger (2g, 8a) and Snider (3g, 4a) were also dangerous. Duch led the Stealth attack against Calgary in the regular season with seven goals and added 15 assists, while Ratcliff scored six times and set up 11 others. Bucktooth also performed well for Washington against Calgary with five goals and eight assists. The Roughnecks compiled an all-time regular-season record of 8-5 (2-4 at home, 6-1 on the road) against the Washington Stealth. Over the previous six seasons before the Stealth relocated to Everett from San Jose, the ’Necks had compiled a 9-7 record in the regular season against the San Jose Stealth (3-4 at home, 6-3 on the road).
MOUSE’S MUSINGS: Malawsky, who’s in his second season as Calgary’s head coach, praised Dickson for his seven-goal outburst against the Rush last weekend. “That was like a playoff atmosphere game and he’s one of our best guys and he rose to the challenge,” said Malawsky, who also serves as Calgary’s assistant general manager. “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.” Malawsky is being assisted once again this season by Bob McMahon as offence coordinator and Bruce Codd as defence coordinator. It’s the fourth season for McMahon with the ’Necks, while Codd is in his second season on the Calgary coaching staff.
LOOSE BALL FRENZY: With 200 loose balls to his credit this season, Snider has increased his totals in that category for the Riggers in the regular season to 838 during just his fourth campaign with Calgary. Earlier this season, Snider moved past Kaleb Toth, who finished his career with 661 loose balls during his time with the ’Necks, and into second spot behind Shattler on the franchise leader board. In eight seasons with the Riggers, Shattler has collected 840 loose balls, while Snider is right on his heels. Snider and Shattler are also neck-and-neck for the franchise record for loose balls in the playoffs. Snider is sitting at 86, while Shattler is six behind with 80.
EVANS ALMIGHTY: Since recording just one assist during Calgary’s 15-7 loss to Edmonton on March 14, Evans has put up 32 points on 12 goals and 20 assists in Calgary’s past six games. In his three seasons with the Roughnecks, Evans has recorded at least one point in 49 consecutive games. His single point against the Rush was his lowest total, while his best outing occurred during a 19-12 road win over the Colorado Mammoth on Jan. 25, 2013 when he racked up four goals and nine assists. That 13-point performance set a record that still stands for the highest output by a Roughneck in a single game. Overall, Evans is riding a 65-game point-scoring streak. In 142 career regular-season games, Evans has only been held scoreless on two occasions and one of those was in his very first NLL game with the Rochester Knighthawks on Jan. 7, 2006. Evans then went on a run of 75 straight games where he recorded at least one point before he was blanked during Rochester’s final regular season game of the 2010 season. In addition, Evans has recorded at least one point in all 10 playoff games he has played.
DID YOU KNOW?: Dickson, who is currently riding a 14-game goal-scoring streak, is third among NLL goal scorers at 41. Only Dobbie (48) and Toronto’s Stephan Leblanc (42) and have scored more. Dickson also made history earlier this season when he scored while the Riggers were playing a man down in the third quarter of Calgary’s 15-13 road win over Minnesota on Feb. 8. That moved him out of a tie with Roughnecks legend Tracey Kelusky to become the franchise leader in all-time short-handed goals during the regular season. Dickson added two more shorties during Calgary’s 15-7 setback at home to the Rush on March 14. He has now compiled 15 career short-handed goals, three more than Kelusky.
MILESTONES WITHIN REACH
– Dane Dobbie is three goals shy of setting a franchise record for most goals in a single season. The current record is 50, set by Lewis Ratcliff in 2007.
– Shawn Evans is six assists away from breaking the franchise record he set last year for most assists in a single season (80).
– Mike Carnegie is six points away from 50.
– Jeff Shattler needs 12 goals to reach 200.