The decisive victory over the Saskatchewan Rush to end the regular season was bittersweet for the Roughnecks.
They experienced the highs of finally winning against their biggest rivals and putting on a show in front of an incredible 18,845 fans. But they also felt the sting of missing the NLL playoffs for the first time in 15 years.
For defender Garrett McIntosh, he had the added benefit of taking down his brother’s team for the first time since May 23, 2015, when the Riggers beat the then Edmonton Rush 12-9 in Game 2 of the West Division Final.
“It’s a huge win,” said McIntosh. “Unfortunately it’s not the result we wanted for the season, but to finish it off with a massive win against a team we’ve struggled against for years, it’s a huge victory for us. It doesn’t hurt that I got to beat my brother.”
The elder McIntosh always takes his battles with his brother seriously and in that season-ending win, he was calling for his teammates to make it extra tough on his little brother.
He even made sure to go out of his way to give Ben an extra shot or two on the floor.
“It’s always competitive. Especially [in the season finale], I’m yelling at guys to hit him,” McIntosh admitted. “But I’ve got to get my licks in, too. It’s fun and it’s always exciting. But now I’ve got to wish him the best, I know who I’m cheering for [in the playoffs].”
With no horse left in the race, McIntosh is standing firmly behond his brother, who is in search of a third straight Champion’s Cup.
The 2017 season was a mixed bag for the 27-year old defender. He played in more games (15) than the previous two seasons, but he saw a drop in his goals, loose balls, and caused turnovers.
But that’s not to say he didn’t improve in his own end. Despite a slight drop across the board statistically, McIntosh did a better job of staying out of the penalty box, registering only 26 penalty minutes, and played consistent, tough defence each and every game.
At 6-foot-3, 226 lbs., McIntosh is a physically imposing player on the floor and relies greatly on his athleticism and strength. But he’s begun to realize, those physical gifts can only get you so far.
“It’s more of a mental game now,” McIntosh said. “I think this year, for myself personally, it’s a bit of a learning curve moving to a veteran status. Instead of being a pure athlete relying on my youth and my athleticism, it’s time to start being a student of the game a little bit more.”
Heading into the summer, he’ll be looking to continue working on his game while playing senior A ball for defensive coach Rob Williams and the Maple Ridge Burrards.
And after missing the playoffs with the Roughnecks, there’s only one thing on his mind.
A chance to play for the national championship Mann Cup.
“I’m going to be going back for a number of games to qualify for playoffs,” said McIntosh. “After that, hopefully when they’re in playoffs, I’ll be flying back to help with another Mann Cup run.”