News and notes as the Roughnecks prepare for the West Division Semi-Final versus the Colorado Mammoth.
MAMMOTH MISSION: After finishing atop the National Lacrosse League’s West Division with a 9-7 record, the Calgary Roughnecks earned a home playoff date in the opening round against the Colorado Mammoth (7-9). The Riggers will face off against the Mammoth this Saturday night (7 p.m.) in the NLL West Division Semi-Final at the Scotiabank Saddledome. “We have the utmost respect for Colorado and their coaching staff and the personnel that they have on and off the floor,” said Calgary coach Curt Malawsky. “It’s going to be a challenge and we’re going to be as prepared as they will be. The team that makes the least amount of mistakes and can play that so-to-speak perfect game is the team that’s going to be successful.” While the ’Necks beat the Edmonton Rush 12-11 in overtime on the road last Saturday night to secure top spot in the West, the Mammoth also came up with a big 16-14 road win over the Minnesota Swarm to qualify for NLL post-season action. “We’re really pleased and happy to be in the playoffs and are ready to go,” said Colorado coach Bob Hamley. “In a playoff game you have to have all aspects of the game going to win games in our league. That’s just the way it is. We’re thrilled to get up there (to Calgary) and let the battle begin.”
OVERTIME THRILLER: Shawn Evans scored at 10:05 of the extra period to lead the Riggers to a thrilling 12-11 win over the Rush last Saturday. “You just wanted it to go into the back of the net, I can tell you that much,” said Evans, who also chipped in with nine assists during regulation for a 10-point performance. “Ten minutes of overtime, playing every shift going out there and battling hard, it finds the back of the net. It’s relieving knowing that we won it and how hard we guys fought.” As a result of the victory, the ’Necks finished in a three-way tie atop the West Division standings with the Rush and Washington Stealth at 9-7. By virtue of their 8-4 divisional record (the Stealth went 6-5 and the Rush finished 5-6), the Riggers earned top spot and home-field advantage for at least the first two rounds of the playoffs. “It’s great to have first place and home field advantage coming back,” said forward Daryl Veltman, who scored a game-high five goals and added three helpers. “We’ve had it the last couple of years and it’s in our favour to go back to the ‘Dome in front of our fans.” Curtis Dickson scored twice against Edmonton to give him a team-high 42 goals on the season, while Jeff Shattler (1g, 5a), Scott Ranger (1g, 1a), Travis Cornwall (1g) and Geoff Snider (1g) also scored. Goalie Mike Poulin stopped 42-of-53 shots he faced to backstop the Riggers to victory.
ROUGHNECKS VS. MAMMOTH: The Roughnecks went 2-1 against the Mammoth in the 2013 regular season. After suffering a 13-12 overtime setback at home on Jan. 19, the Riggers responded with a 19-12 victory over the Mammoth six days later at Denver’s Pepsi Center. Dickson then scored 21 seconds into overtime at home on March 23 to lead the ’Necks to a 12-11 triumph over the Mammoth in the rubber match. Evans led all scorers in the three-game set with an impressive 30 points on 11 goals and 19 assists, while Shattler also performed well for the Riggers with six goals and nine helpers. Dane Dobbie scored seven goals to go with 10 assists in the three games against Colorado, while Dickson (8g, 3a), Ranger (5g, 6a), Veltman (1g, 7a) and Snider (4g, 3a) were also dangerous. Poulin made 110 saves over three games and finished with a 2-1 record against Colorado. NLL veteran John Grant Jr. paced the Mammoth attack with 12 goals and seven assists in the three games against Calgary, while Gavin Prout (3g, 11a), Jordan McBride (4g, 8a), Adam Jones (4g, 8a), Sean Pollock (5g, 6a) and Jamie Lincoln (5g, 2a) also got in on the action.
DID YOU KNOW?: In their 12-year history, the Roughnecks have played more games against the Mammoth than any other team in the NLL. During the regular season, the two West Division foes have met 29 times with the Riggers winning 14 times and the Mammoth prevailing on 15 occasions. In the playoffs, Calgary and Colorado have clashed five more times and the Riggers hold a 4-1 advantage in those post-season contests. Both times that Calgary won the Champion’s Cup (2004 and 2009), the Riggers had to beat the Mammoth to get to the NLL title game. In 2004, Calgary earned a 13-11 road win over Colorado in the West Division final before going on to beat the Buffalo Bandits 14-11 at home in the championship game. In 2009, the ’Necks opened the playoffs at home with a 15-8 win over the Mammoth before also beating the San Jose Stealth 17-5 and the New York Titans 12-10 at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
EVANS ALMIGHTY: After his 10-point performance against the Rush, Evans won the NLL’s Offensive Player of the Week award for the final week of the regular season. Evans also wrapped up the league’s scoring title with 112 points, which also set a new franchise record for points in a season by a Calgary Roughneck. He broke the previous mark of 104 points, which was shared by both Josh Sanderson (2010) and Lewis Ratcliff (2007). Evans also led the NLL in assists with 80 to set another franchise record for the Riggers. Sanderson held the previous franchise record by recording 74 helpers in 2009.
OFFENSIVE EXPLOSION: With his 13-point performance against the Mammoth on Jan. 25, Evans set a new franchise record for points in a game. The previous mark was held by Dobbie, Ratcliff and John Kilbride, who were tied with 11-point outings. “Early in the game the ball was finding the back of the net,” Evans explained. “Then when I made a pass and a guy had an open opportunity, he was putting the ball in the net. It’s nice when you get into a little bit of a rhythm and things are going well for you.” While it was a new record for the Riggers, it wasn’t a new benchmark for Evans, who had a 14-point game (7g, 7a) against the Toronto Rock back in 2009 when he was a member of the Rochester Knighthawks. “I forgot about that one,” Evans said. “It’s just sort of how the game goes. Sometimes you get a lot of opportunities to score goals and to create plays and sometimes they don’t go in the net.”
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 their resilience in battling back from a 6-1 deficit to down the Rush 12-11 in OT last Saturday night to earn the West Division title. “We didn’t panic and showed a lot of composure,” Malawsky said. “We just clawed our way back and it’s a testament to the character we have in our room. The guys went to war and they battled it out. That might have been one of the best games that I’ve been a part of for a long, long time.” 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.
LOOSE BALL FRENZY: Snider led the NLL in the regular season by scooping up 235 loose balls. It’s the third best total of his career (he had 245 loose balls in 2010 and 244 in 2008 when he was a member of the Philadelphia Wings). The seven-year veteran has now gathered up 1,527 loose balls throughout his career. Snider also led the NLL this season in two other categories with 310 faceoff wins and 69 penalty minutes and he finished third in forced turnovers with 27.
MILESTONE MOMENTS: Dickson notched the 100th goal of his NLL career in the third quarter of Calgary’s 12-11 loss at home to Washington on April 6. Dickson has scored six more times since then to give him a career-high 42 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 period of Calgary’s 12-11 overtime win at home over Colorado 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. … Captain Andrew McBride has played in 167 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 with the Riggers. … With his five-goal performance against the Rush last Saturday, Veltman surpassed the 100-goal plateau in his fifth season in the NLL. With 103 goals and 186 assists in 73 career NLL games, Veltman is now just 11 points away from 300 points.
PLAYOFF MILESTONES WITHIN REACH
- When he suits up for Saturday’s game against Colorado, Andrew McBride will set a new franchise record for most playoff games played. McBride and Kaleb Toth both played in all 16 previous playoff games with the Roughnecks.
- With three power-play goals, Scott Ranger will set a new franchise playoff record. Toth currently tops the list with eight power-play goals in the post-season, while Ranger and former Roughneck Tracey Kelusky are tied at six.
- Geoff Snider is within striking distance of the franchise record for most faceoff wins in the post-season. Devan Wray currently holds the record with 71 faceoff wins, while Snider has 57.
- By playing just 3-1/2 minutes against Colorado on Saturday, Mike Poulin will move into second spot on the franchise list for most minutes played by a goalie in the playoffs. Curtis Palidwor holds the current record with 285 minutes played, while Matt King is at 217 with Poulin close on his heels at 213:32.