CALGARY, AB — Coming away with a win over the Edmonton Rush has been challenge for every club in the NLL this season
The Rush, who had dropped but one contest in the 2013-14 season, went looking for a sweep over the Calgary Roughnecks in the Battle of Alberta season finale on Saturday — a game that had no implication on the playoff picture.
But the Roughnecks spoiled the party anyway.
Calgary battled their way to overtime when Curtis Dickson collected his seventh goal of the evening in dramatic fashion to hand the Rush just their second loss of the season and first at home.
The victory, as inconsequential as it was, may have been one of the biggest of the season for the Roughnecks.
“Edmonton is a phenomenal team so for us to be able to beat them was good for our confidence and our group,” Riggers head coach Curt Malawasky said Wednesday. “They handled us pretty easily the first three games. It was just nice for us to get that confidence builder. [It] was like a playoff game, we were down and we battled back and we were able to pull it out late in the game … that bodes well for us going down the road.”
The Rush handled the Riggers with apparent ease in the prior three matches, scoring 15 goals in each outing and outscoring Calgary by a combined 45-26 margin. Edmonton had already established an NLL regular season record with 15 wins and has proven to be the team to beat this season.
Perhaps more important than the win itself was the timing of the win. The Roughnecks begin their quest for the Champions Cup on Saturday, May 3, when they host the Colorado Mammoth at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
Heading into the playoffs with momentum can be a big advantage, transition player Geoff Snider admitted.
“It was huge for us, they are the team that they are—they’re obviously the team to beat,” he 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.”
Before the Riggers embark on the post-season, they still need to close out the regular season Saturday in Langley, BC with their final regular season game against the Vancouver Stealth.
It’s another tilt that will have no bearing on the standings, but a game which Malawsky cautions can’t be taken lightly.
“By no means are we going to be sitting back,” Malawsky said. “[If] you take your foot off the pedal one week it could parlay into a bad start the following weekend … if you have a bad start or a bad fifteen minutes it could probably cost you the game. 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. We’re excited to go to Vancouver—a bunch of local guys there—and we’re excited to play a group pf guys that don’t give you [anything].
“It will be a great night and we’re looking forward to playing in front of the fans in Vancouver.”
The Stealth encountered a difficult campaign, going 4-12 and missing the playoffs after making it to the NLL Champions Cup final three of the past four seasons, coming away with the title in 2010 with a 15-10 triumph over the Toronto Rock.
“They’re competitors and this is certainly a place that they haven’t been before,” Snider said of the Stealth. “Whatever happened this season with them, they’re still the same group that was in the finals last year and knocked us out of the playoffs a few years back, it’s still the same group.
“I doubt that they’re going to be coming in and looking at us any differently than they did before, it’s a lacrosse game. For us, we’re just going to keep focusing on what we do, regardless of the outcome.”