EDMONTON, AB — It could come down to ten intense minutes.
If the Calgary Roughnecks fall to the Edmonton Rush tonight at Rexall Place in Game 2 of the West Division Finals, a 10-minute “mini” game will be played to decide what team moves on to the NLL Champion’s Cup Finals.
The new format was put in place over the summer in an attempt to draw more excitement for the fans, extend the playoffs and offer every team that qualifies for the post-season a home date.
The Game 1 win over the Rush at the Scotiabank Saddledome last weekend gives the Riggers an edge and puts the burden on Edmonton to try to force the mini game.
“It takes a little pressure off but we’re thinking about the first 60 – that’s all we’re concentrating on,” Shattler explained. “We don’t want to even come close to that ten-minute game. We’re still in the driver’s seat up until then. We just need to come out with a better start a couple minutes in and, I believe, if we do, I think we will come out victorious.”
But the Roughnecks would prefer to avoid an abbreviated tie-breaker.
“I don’t even want to think about the ten minutes,” Roughnecks forward Jeff Shattler said. “It’s pretty crazy that a ten-minute mini game can decide your whole season. Why wouldn’t they make it twelve minutes? I don’t really know what’s going on there.”
Although Shattler isn’t a fan of the new configuration, he still understands and appreciates the benefits for the league and the fans.
“It is what it is, and it’s good for the league and for each team to get a home playoff game,” he said. “I think it’s good for the league, it’s good for the owners, it’s good to get fans involved in every city.”
The possibility of playing a full game, a sudden death overtime, a 10-minute mini game and another sudden death overtime to determine the NLL West Division Champion is very real going into tonight.
After needing overtime in their past two playoff contests, Calgary would rather leave the dramatics in the past and concentrate on getting off to a good start and maintain the pressure than have it come down to extra time.
“It’s just nerve-wracking — I’d rather stay away from overtime” Shattler stated. “These overtime wins are ridiculous. We’d rather have a better start. We can’t get down 5-1 [tonight] because it’s not going to turn out the way it did for us last weekend. We’ve got a great team. We’ve got a ‘no quit’ attitude.
“We’ve really gotta put a quick start in there and, if we do, hopefully we can get the lead, for once, against these guys because usually we’re trailing these guys.
“We would like to get the lead and hold it.”
Roughnecks head coach Curt Malawsky and his staff aren’t approaching the game any differently than any other.
“We’re just going to play like any other game,” Malawsky said. “We have a lot of experience in overtime games the last couple of weeks, so I don’t think we go and try to change our ideology on it. It’s going to be important to get the first one or two goals, but again, our focus is 100 per cent on that first game.
“We don’t even want to look at it as a fallback. We’re coming hard and we’re going hard for 60. We want to earn it in true time.”
A veteran of 21 playoff games with the Roughnecks, captain Andrew Mcbride agreed with Malawsky and is comfortable with the team’s attitude coming into Edmonton.
“We’re not focused on the 10-minute mini game,” he said. “Our goal and focus is on the first game. If it comes down to that point, we’ll worry about that then. Our coaches prepare us the best in the league — we’re ready with video, we’re ready with scouting reports.
“We’re focused on the first game and that’s where all our attention is.”