CALGARY, AB – There is a sense of déjà vu in the West Division Finals.
In 2014, the Calgary Roughnecks defeated the Colorado Mammoth in the single-elimination Semi-Final to advance to the West Final to face the Edmonton Rush. That same storyline has unfolded again this season – with a few minor changes.
In the West Division Semi-Final, the Roughnecks played a great team game where they spread the ball well, played solid defence, and got spectacular goaltending from Frankie Scigliano.
“I thought it was of our most complete games of the season,” said Roughnecks coach Curt Malawsky. “We did a good job taking care of the ball up front and sharing that responsibility. On defence we did a good job of changing some of their angles and when we didn’t do that, Frankie bailed us out.
“I thought we played well for 60 minutes and it was as close to a complete game as you can get. I was very proud of the compete level of our guys. They laid it all out and knew what was on the line and they responded, so it was good to see.”
Even with the win, the team is not satisfied with what they’ve accomplished and they are aiming to make it back to the same apex as last season.
And after Calgary downed the Mammoth 11-6 last weekend, they immediately turned their attention to the Rush.
“We enjoy the win briefly in the locker room in Denver on Saturday night,” said transition player Geoff Snider. “But we immediately shifted to what we were going to be doing to next week to be successful. It’s a fun team to play. It’s fun to play because it’s intense, there’s a heated rivalry, were well matched, they’re explosive, we’re explosive, and we’re very familiar with each other. I know that we spent the week getting ready to go and we are excited to get to Edmonton.”
Having finished first in the West Division with a 13-5 record, Edmonton earned a bye in the first week of the playoffs.
During the week off, the Rush made sure to get healthy and prepared for what will be a close, physical series.
“We took the opportunity to rest up and get a couple guys who were dinged up healed,” said Rush coach Derek Keenan. “We’ll be good to go this weekend. I thought they were well deserving of the win, without question. I thought they were excellent in all areas of the floor, so we are going to have to be real good this weekend.”
There is a long-standing rivalry between the two Alberta teams, especially with the recent memory of last year’s West Division Final.
The Roughnecks know that it will not be an easy task and that they must be ready to bring everything they have, even on short rest.
“Every time we play, there is a lot of emotion,” Malawsky said. “The compete level is through the roof for both teams. It’s the team that takes care of the ball and makes the least amount of mistakes that will end up being successful.
“Just make sure that they don’t get a run on us. Past couple games, they’ve buried a couple teams early in the third quarter. It’s going to be a challenge for us. They’re first in our division for a reason. It’s going to be a tall order, but our guys are excited to get started on a Friday.”
In 2015, the two teams clashed four times in the regular season, so there is a lot of familiarity between the teams.
This results in a lot of close games, but with firepower on both ends, no one really knows how the game will unfold.
“You never know how it’s going to go,” said Keenan. “You could see a high scoring affair or a real low scoring affair. We’ve had both over the years. Limiting mistakes is going to be real important. Obviously they have a lot of weapons on offence, so we are going to have to have our best in the defensive end and from a goaltending perspective as well.”