CALGARY, AB — Another year, another Roughnecks playoff appearance.
The Riggers punched their post-season ticket for the 14th consecutive season last Friday as the Vancouver Stealth lost to the Colorado Mammoth.
“It’s great to carry on a tradition. You never want to be the one who breaks that kind of record,” joked Roughnecks assistant captain Dan MacRae. “With guys like Andrew McBride watching and guys in town like Geoff Snider, everybody that’s ever been part of the Roughnecks history and tradition, it’s great to keep it going because it’s such a meaningful jersey to put on.”
For those of you who can’t think of the last time the Riggers missed out on post-season activities, you’d have to look all the way back to the teams’ inaugural season in 2002.
The streak is so long, even some of the players didn’t know it.
“I didn’t know the streak was that long, but that’s pretty impressive,” defenceman Scott Carnegie said. “That’s probably one of the longer streaks.”
With the Necks continued success over the years, some people have come to expect that they will earn a spot every year.
But that’s not the players mindset, though.
“I think there’s that assumption, maybe not with the guys in the room, but with the media and the way the league is,” explained Carnegie. “People think that Calgary will have a rough start and then they’ll pick it up and make it into the playoffs. The reality is, this is a tough league and there’s a lot of parity and anyone can win on any night.”
Regardless of expectations for this team, the players were extremely excited to make the playoffs – especially the rookies.
Making the playoffs in their first year in the league is a big accomplishment and something that has them ready to rock.
“It’s crazy being in my first year and going straight to the playoffs,” said rookie Kellen LeClair through a big smile. “It’s cool to be there and have that opportunity.”
But with a full season under their belts, they don’t feel like rookies anymore.
“You get the whole season under your belt and heading into playoffs, it’s a different game, there’s a lot more intensity and a lot more on the line,” said Wesley Berg. “I feel like none of us are rookies anymore. We play a big part on this team and we have to contribute for us to be successful and win a championship.”
Hopefully, that is the first of many post-seasons for the Roughnecks rookies.
While the freshman may have long careers ahead of them, some veterans have already accumulated long careers.
“I’ve been part of this organization for a long time and it’s been amazing to go to the playoffs every time,” said defenceman Peter McFetridge. “It’s an incredible opportunity. Getting a little bit older, it’s definitely not something I take for granted. I’m just really excited to get to battle in the post-season again.”
The Roughnecks know it doesn’t matter what seed you are when you enter the playoffs because once you’re there, anyone can win.
Last year, in the same situation, the Riggers were able to upset the Mammoth to advance to the West Final. They were up with minutes remaining in the West Final, so anything is within reach.
This time, they’re aimed high, but not losing focus on what’s in front of them.
“We want to make a push and go deep,” admitted Carnegie. “Once you’re in, anything can happen. We’ll take it one game at a time.”