News and notes as the Roughnecks prepare for the Edmonton Rush with first place on the line.
DOWN TO THE WIRE: The Calgary Roughnecks (8-7) will travel north to play the Edmonton Rush (9-6) on Saturday night (7 p.m.) in the final game of the National Lacrosse League regular season for both teams. The winner of the Battle of Alberta will clinch the West Division regular season title and home-field advantage throughout the first two rounds of the playoffs. “We’re excited to go up to Edmonton,” said Calgary head coach Curt Malawsky. “It’s going to be a big challenge. We can’t wait for Saturday.” The Riggers started the season series against the Rush with back-to-back wins (18-15 in Edmonton on Feb. 2 and 9-8 at home a week later) before dropping an 18-13 decision on March 2 at the Scotiabank Saddledome. While the ’Necks are coming off a 15-14 loss to the Rochester Knighthawks last Saturday night, the Rush are heading into the game with a measure of confidence following a 14-10 win over the K-Hawks in Edmonton a day later. “It was an important win for us,” said Edmonton coach and general manager Derek Keenan. “We’ve had our struggles. We didn’t have the best start, but we managed to rebound and got a big win to stay in the hunt for an opportunity to play at home in the playoffs.”
ONE SHOT SHORT: A season-high crowd of 12,340 boisterous fans took in Calgary’s 15-14 loss to Rochester at the ‘Dome last Saturday night. Despite the setback, Malawsky commended his players for putting in a solid effort. “I thought they left everything out there,” Malawsky said. “I’ve been around the game for 38 years and sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. Those guys have got nothing to be ashamed off out there. We were one shot short.” Shawn Evans had three goals and seven assists to pace Calgary’s attack, while Jeff Shattler also had a strong game for the Riggers with four goals and two assists. Dane Dobbie finished with a hat trick, but he left the game with a knee injury after scoring his third goal of the game at 11:09 of the third quarter. Curtis Dickson had two goals and five assists, while Travis Cornwall (1g, 1a), Geoff Snider (1g), Joe Resetarits (4a), Greg Harnett (2a), Mike Carnegie (1a) and Matthew Dinsdale (1a) also hit the scoresheet. Dan Dawson paced Rochester’s scoring attack with three goals and eight assists, while Cody Jamieson (3g, 6a), Cory Vitarelli (3g, 3a), Johnny Powless (2g, 3a), Mike Accursi (2g, 3a), Craig Point (1g, 1a), Joel McCready (1a) and Joe Walters (4a) also contributed to the victory. Matt Vinc stopped 44 shots in the Rochester net to record the win, while Calgary goalie Mike Poulin made 33 saves in a losing cause.
SCORING MACHINE: After his 10-point performance against the K-Hawks, Evans has now recorded 31 goals and 71 assists through 15 games played. He currently leads the NLL in scoring with 102 points and is just three points away from setting a new franchise record for most points in a season. The current record of 104 is shared by former Roughnecks Lewis Ratcliff and Josh Sanderson. “He’s been our emotional leader and he’s been our floor general,” said Malawsky of Evans. “He wills teams to win. That’s why we targeted him to bring him in here. He’s done everything we’ve asked of him and more. He’s just a special player and a special person off the floor. He’s a big part of our group. He’s rallying the boys right now.”
ROUGHNECKS VS. RUSH: The Roughnecks boast an all-time record of 22-5 (9-3 at home, 13-2 on the road) in the regular season against the Rush. The 22 wins over Edmonton are the most that Calgary has recorded against any NLL franchise. Calgary beat Edmonton all four times the two teams faced off against each other in the regular season last year. Evans led all players with 11 goals and seven assists in the four-game series, while Shattler scored nine times to go with six assists. Despite not recording a point in the final game, Dickson tallied seven goals and six assists against the Rush, while Ranger scored three times and set up 10 others. Veltman (4g, 8a), Dobbie (4g, 5a in three games) and Snider (3g, 5a) also fared well against Edmonton. Shawn Williams led the Rush scoring attack with a goal and 13 assists in the four games, while Scott Evans scored eight times and set up four others despite only playing the first two games of the series. Neither Williams nor Evans are back with the Rush this season. Corey Small (3g, 7a), Ward (3g, 6a) and Zack Greer (5g, 1a), who are all back for another campaign with the Rush, were also solid contributors for the Rush in 2012.
STINGING SETBACK: Despite their regular-season success against the Rush, the Riggers suffered a 19-11 loss to the Rush in the first round of the 2012 NLL playoffs on May 5 at the ’Dome. “They beat us last year in the playoffs, but we’ve got to forget about that and just build on what we’re trying to do,” Evans said. Ward notched five goals and added six assists to lead Edmonton to the post-season victory, thus knocking Calgary out of the playoffs. Small (5g, 3a) also had a strong game for the Rush as did Tom Johnson (3g) and Greer (2g, 3a), while goalie Aaron Bold stopped 39 saves to pick up the win. Ranger had four goals and one assist for the Riggers, while Dobbie (3g, 4a), Evans (2g, 4a) and Shattler (2g, 3a) also scored.
MOUSE’S MUSINGS: Curt Malawsky took over as the sixth head coach in Roughnecks’ history prior to the start of the 2013 season. Malawsky praised his players for battling right until the end of the game last Saturday against Rochester. “Sometimes in the game of lacrosse, one shot wins,” Malawsky said. “Our compete level was phenomenal. There was playoff intensity in that game, which is great going forward.” Malawsky is being assisted this season by Bob McMahon as offence coordinator and Bruce Codd as defence coordinator. It’s the third season for McMahon on the Calgary coaching staff, while Codd joined the Riggers this season.
MILESTONE MOMENTS: By scooping up 15 loose balls against Rochester last Saturday, Snider surpassed 1,500 for his career. Meanwhile Nolan Heavenor, picked up two loose balls to move him over the 500-mark. … Dickson notched the 100th goal of his NLL career in the third quarter of Calgary’s 12-11 loss at home to the Washington Stealth on April 6. Dickson has scored four more times since then to give him a career-high 40 goals in 15 games. His previous career high was 33 goals, which he set back in 2011 during his rookie campaign. … With a power-play goal in the first quarter of Calgary’s 12-11 overtime win at home over the Colorado Mammoth on March 23, Dobbie established a new franchise record for all-time power-play goals. Dobbie has since scored two more power-play markers to give him 61 for his career. He was previously tied at 58 with former Roughneck captain Tracey Kelusky. … Meanwhile, Calgary captain Andrew McBride has played in 166 regular season games with the Riggers making him the franchise leader in that category. Earlier this season, McBride passed Forever A Roughneck honouree Kaleb Toth, who previously held the franchise mark by appearing in 160 career regular season games for Calgary.
ON THE VERGE: In just his third season, Dickson has now tied Kelusky for the franchise lead in all-time short-handed goals during the regular season at 12. He has six short-handed goals this season and is one away from matching the NLL single-season record, which is shared by three players including Washington forward Jeff Zywicki, who accomplished the feat in 2008 when he was a member of the San Jose Stealth.
MILESTONES WITHIN REACH
- Curtis Dickson is tied with Tracey Kelusky for the franchise lead in all-time short-handed goals at 12. He’s also one away from matching the NLL single-season record of seven short-handed goals in one year.
- Shawn Evans needs two points to tie the franchise record of most points in one season at 104, which is shared by former Roughnecks Josh Sanderson and Lewis Ratcliff.
- Daryl Veltman needs to score two more times to hit the 100-goal mark.
- Nolan Heavenor is two points away from 100.
- With five more points, Scott Ranger will hit 400.
- Geoff Snider is six goals away from 100.
- By scooping up five more loose balls, Scott Carnegie will reach 300, while Mike Carnegie needs nine more loose balls for 400.