CALGARY, AB — This weekend, the Calgary Roughnecks are headed to Saskatoon to face the Saskatchewan Rush on May 21st at 7:30pm MT. The Rush used a eight-goal fourth quarter in the opening game of the West Division Final to knock off the Roughnecks. The Rigger will be looking to rebound in Game 2 and force a 10-minute tie-breaker.
Here are 5 things to watch for in the contest:
1) CRAZY CROWD
When the Rush moved to Saskatoon in the summer, no one was quite sure how many fans would pack the Sasktel Centre on game days. The locals quickly proved that Toon Town can be a lacrosse hot bed and they continually packed the arena on weekends. The team averaged an attendance of 11,737 people, good for third highest in the NLL. With limited tickets still available, it’s likely that the building will be at its max of 15,195. And if you know anything about sports fans from Saskatchewan, it’s going to be loud. The Rush will have the home field advantage, something the Necks will need to take away early by having a strong start and quieting the crowd.
2) FINDING TWINE
With forwards like Curtis Dickson, Dane Dobbie, Jeff Shattler, and Wesley Berg up front, scoring hasn’t been a big issue for the Roughnecks this season. However, when it comes to playing against the Rush, finding the back of the net has been a issue for Calgary. In two of the five games against the the Roughnecks haven’t been able to hit double digits. Through five games, the Necks have averaged only 10 goals per game, where the Rush have averaged 13.6 goals per game. Obviously, beating the tough Rush defence and talented net minder Aaron Bold is no easy task, but Calgary will need to find a way to bury their chances if they hope to win this weekend.
It’s no secret that the Roughnecks and the Rush do not like each other. At the end of last weekend’s game, the Riggers were not pleased with Rush and things started to get a bit rough. It’s not likely that the two teams have buried the hatchet in a week’s time, so expect some rough stuff this weekend. With that being said, if the game is close, don’t expect either team to start something and risk being penalized.
4) PACE OF PLAY
Seven of the Rush goals were scored in transition and that was the biggest difference in the game. The Roughnecks had plenty of opportunities running the floor but were only able to find the back of the net once, as Jon Harnett cleaned up a Dane Dobbie rebound. Calgary should be looking to contain the Rush transition game and slow down the pace of play to work better with their skill set. In Colorado, they proved that they can contain top tier scorers when the defence is set. Even with Mark Matthews, Robert Church, and Ben McIntosh on offence, the Roughnecks defence managed to hold them nine goals. Take away the transition game and it puts Calgary in a much better position to win.
Should the Roughnecks win Game 2 in Saskatoon, a tie-breaking mini-game will be played immediately following. The 10-minute tie-breaker will operate as a Game 3 to decide the winner of the series. Teams can score as many goals as possible in the tie-breaker – it is not a sudden death quarter. In the tie-breaker, each team will have one instant replay challenge and one time-out. To make things more interesting, any penalties at the end of the 4th quarter of Game 2 will carry over to the tie-breaker.