CALGARY, AB – The Calgary Roughnecks are entering the home stretch of the season.
After playing four of their last five games against non-divisional opponents, the team will play five of their remaining six games against teams in the West. With the opportunity to gain ground in their division, a playoff spot is within their reach.
“Obviously we’re excited to be able to play some teams in our division and to play a team that we’re chasing in the standings,” Andrew McBride said. “That’s what you want to be able to do at this time.”
After a disappointing 12-10 loss to the Toronto Rock on March 28th, the team must rebound and get ready for an important home-and-home weekend series against the Colorado Mammoth.
Colorado currently sits second in the West Division, only 0.5 games behind the Edmonton Rush. With a win on the weekend, they could clinch a playoff spot.
“Colorado’s a great team,” McBride said. “It’s a tough environment to play in. They do a lot of things well and they’re very well coached. We’ve got to be ready to play when we come in here. It’s going to be an exciting test and the guys believe in this locker room that we can still get the job done. That’s the most important thing.”
The Roughnecks are hoping that their past success in double-headers can continue this weekend. Since 2008, Calgary is 23-7 when playing two games in a weekend.
The two teams met earlier in the season, with the Mammoth winning 17-16 on an overtime goal from John Grant Jr.
That was over two months ago.
“We’re not looking too much about what happened in the past,” Roughnecks coach Curt Malawsky said. “We’re looking forward to this weekend. The Mammoth are playing really good lacrosse – 3-0 in their last three games.
“We know we’re going to have our work cut out for us and it was a shootout last time we were down there, but I think going forward both defences have tightened up since the second game of the season, so I imagine it’s going to be a real tight one again.”
Since then the two teams have changed significantly.
The Roughnecks signed former Mammoth forward Sean Pollock and traded Matthew Dinsdale to Edmonton, while Colorado traded for forwards Jeremy Noble and Cameron Flint.
“Getting Jeremy Noble and Cam Flint, that makes them a force to be reckoned with,” Roughnecks GM Mike Board said. “They’ve improved themselves since the start of the season and we know we’ll have our hands full.”
After trading for Noble weeks before the deadline, adding Flint at the deadline was a priority for the Mammoth.
He already had established chemistry with some players on the team, as they were teammates with Team Canada. He is also a resident of Denver and would be around during the week to interact and work with the team.
“It was sort of a no-brainer for us,” said Mammoth coach Pat Coyle. “It gave us some more depth on our right-side.”
Colorado is currently riding a three-game winning streak and is coming off of a decisive win over the Vancouver Stealth, where they held them to only six goals.
With the additions and the improved overall team play, the Mammoth will represent a tough challenge for the Roughnecks.
“I think were starting to come together as a team,” said Mammoth transition player Joey Cupido. “We’ve started to gel the last few games. As you saw last week, that was the best 60 minutes we played all year. Transition has been a big part all year, whether we have been getting breaks from the back end or getting bench assists to our offence.”
One notable omission from the Roughnecks line-up the past three games has been star face-off man Geoff Snider.
In the three games since returning from his upper body injury, he was rested in the first game and a healthy scratch in the other two.
“He’s a competitor and a guy that brings a lot to the table, so there is a time and a place where Geoff gets into the line-up,” Malawsky said. “He’s continued to work hard and his practices have been phenomenal. He’s the ultimate professional and he understands that the coaches have made a decision on the line-up.
“It’s not what Geoff doesn’t bring or doesn’t do, it’s what the guys that we decided to go with brought to the table. He’s a big part of the organization and a big part of this team. You’re going to see Geoff at some point.”