CALGARY, AB — The Calgary Roughnecks hosted the Saskatchewan Rush in Game 1 of the West Division Finals on May 14th. The game went back and forth through the first three quarters, but in the fourth, the Rush took a lead and wouldn’t look back, winning 16-10.
Here are five things we noticed in the game:
1) IT’S NOT OVER YET
Unlike the West Division Semi-Final against the Colorado Mammoth, the West Final is a best of three series, meaning that the Roughnecks still have a shot to advance to the Champion’s Cup Finals. Now that the Rush own a 1-0 series lead, the Roughnecks must win Game 2 if they want to get a shot at the 10-minute tiebreaker. Calgary is solely focused on the first 60 minutes because as captain Mike Carnegie said, “we would had to win this one anyways.”
2) TRANSITION GOALS
In recent weeks, the Roughnecks transition game has been very success. But on Saturday, the Rush flipped the script on the host team. While the Roughnecks did have quite a few fantastic opportunities on the run, they were only able to bury one, coming off of the stick on Jon Harnett. Meanwhile, the Rush were able to score seven times in transition – although two of those were when the Riggers net was empty. The Rush have shown the ability to get down the floor and find the back of the net all season. Three Saskatchewan defenceman finished the season ranked in the top 10 of defensive scoring (Chris Corbeil, Ryan Dilks, and Jeff Cornwall), so it’s never a good idea to give them an open lane to the net. This will be something to look at next weekend when the Riggers head to Saskatoon.
3) ALBERTA STRONG
After the Roughnecks defeated the Mammoth in the Semi-Final and knew they would be getting a home playoff date, they immediately asked GM Mike Board if they could do something for those affected by the wildfires in Fort McMurray. The organization got on board and decided to donate $4 from every ticket sold to the relief efforts. In addition, the 50-50 proceeds would also go to the relief efforts, all Fort McMurray evacuees could get a complimentary ticket to the game, and they were accepting non-perishable food items at the gate for the Food Bank.
The team wanted to show their support on the floor, so they decided to wear an Alberta Strong helmet decal. Also, captain Mike Carnegie led the entire team onto the floor while carrying an Alberta flag.
4) SHOTS, SHOTS, SHOTS
It’s hard to score when the ball misses the net. On Saturday, the Rush out-shot the Roughnecks 52 to 45. That doesn’t show the whole story. Calgary actually took more shots than Saskatchewan, but they missed the cage at an alarming rate. With 80 shot attempts in the contest, the Roughnecks missed the net 35 times, or on 43 percent of their chances. Dickson (15) and Dobbie (10) combined for 25 of those missed shot opportunities. To put that in perspective, two weekends ago in Colorado, Dickson hit the net on 21 of 27 shot attempts, while Dobbie went 13 for 16. If the Roughneck forwards can find that accuracy again next weekend, it could result in quite a few more goals or rebounds that could create second chance opportunities.
5) GETTIN’ FIRED UP
When Jeff Cornwall was left alone in front of the empty Roughnecks net towards the end of the game, it was considered by some to be disrespectful that he scored to extend the Rush lead to 16-10. Almost instantly after he scored, things started to heat up and some pushing and shoving followed, which resulted in penalties for both Curtis Dickson and Dane Dobbie. The Roughnecks will be looking to use this situation as extra motivation heading into SaskTel Centre next weekend. Expect some rough play in Game 2 of the West Final.