MAMMOTH MISSION: After finishing second in the National Lacrosse League’s West Division with a 12-6 record, the Calgary Roughnecks earned a home playoff date in the opening round against the Colorado Mammoth (8-10). The Riggers will face off against the Mammoth this Saturday night (7 p.m.) in the NLL West Division Semi-Final at the Scotiabank Saddledome. “We’re firing on all cylinders and our guys are pumped to get going,” said Calgary coach Curt Malawsky. “They (the Mammoth) beat us two out of three this year and they’re playing good lacrosse. Their goaltender is playing well, they have world-class talent up front and they have a very athletic defence. With [Bob] Snider on the draws, they’re been pulling a lot of possessions off the [faceoff] circle. We’re going to have our work cut out for us but at the end of the day it’s how we do and how we dictate things on the floor. We’re very confident in the group we have and we’ve been focusing on our systems. We have the utmost respect for that organization and the group of guys coming into Calgary but it’s going to be about the Roughnecks this weekend.”
Mammoth coach Chris Gill said his players are up to the challenge of playing in hostile territory against the higher-seeded Riggers. “They are a really strong team all over the place from goaltending all the way through the coaching staff,” Gill said. “We know they’re going to be focused for us. We’re going to be ready and it’s all about us and what we do and try to do all of our things correct and let the chips fall where they may.”
ROUGHNECKS VS. MAMMOTH: Calgary went 1-2 against Colorado in the 2014 regular season. After downing the Mammoth 13-11 at home at on Jan. 10, the Riggers suffered a 14-13 overtime setback to their Rocky Mountain rivals two weeks later at the ’Dome on Jan. 25. The Mammoth also ran to a 10-9 OT triumph at Pepsi Center in Denver on March 8 to capture the season series between the two clubs. Jeff Shattler paced Calgary’s scoring attack against Colorado with nine goals and six assists, while Dane Dobbie (6g, 8a) and Shawn Evans (2g, 12a) both put up 14 points during the three-game set. Curtis Dickson and Geoff Snider chipped in with four goals and three helpers each against Colorado, while Darryl Veltman (3g, 3a) and Karsen Leung (1g, 4a) were also dangerous. Goalie Mike Poulin finished with 107 saves over the three games. NLL veteran John Grant Jr. led the Mammoth in scoring against the Riggers with six goals and 10 helpers, while Adam Jones scored nine times and added two assists in just two games. Drew Westervelt put up four goals and five helpers against Calgary, while Sean Pollock (3g, 5a) and Joel Dalgarno (2g, 7a) also got in on the action. Goalie Dillon Ward was in net for both overtime wins and finished with 96 saves in the three games.
LOOKING FOR REPEAT PEFORMANCE: The Riggers used a balanced scoring attack to down the Mammoth 15-10 in the opening round of the 2013 playoffs at home last April 23. Shattler (3g, 4a), Evans (3g, 2a) and Scott Ranger (3g, 1a) all recorded hat tricks to lead the ’Necks. “It just shows the competitive edge that we have on our team,” said Malawsky. “We do everything together and when we do that we’re pretty tough to beat.” Veltman had a strong game for the ’Necks with a goal and five assists, while Dickson, Joe Resetarits, Peter McFetridge, Travis Cornwall and Nolan Heavenor also scored. Dobbie set up four goals, while Snider and Andrew McBride chipped in with two assists each. Poulin had a strong game in between the pipes for the Riggers as he made 32 saves, while back-up netminder Frankie Scigliano stopped two of four shots he faced late in the game. Jones had four goals and an assist for Colorado, while Casey Powell a hat trick and three helpers and Grant Jr. had two goals and three assists.
DID YOU KNOW?: In their 13-year history, the Roughnecks have played more games (regular season and playoffs combined) against the Mammoth than any other NLL team. During the regular season, the two West Division foes have met 31 times with the Riggers winning 15 games and the Mammoth prevailing on 16 occasions. In the post-season, Calgary and Colorado have clashed six more times and the Riggers hold a 5-1 advantage in those playoff contests. Both times that Calgary won the Champion’s Cup (in 2004 and 2009), the Riggers had to beat the Mammoth to get to the NLL title game. In 2004, Calgary earned a 13-11 road win over Colorado in the West Division final before going on to beat the Buffalo Bandits 14-11 at home in the championship game. In 2009, the ’Necks opened the playoffs at home with a 15-8 win over the Mammoth before also beating the San Jose Stealth 17-5 and the New York Titans 12-10 at the Saddledome.
SWEEP SUCCESS: Evans had a hat trick and four assists to lead the Roughnecks to a 14-8 win over the Vancouver Stealth on Saturday at the Langley Events Centre. With the win, the Riggers swept the season series against Vancouver as they went 4-0 against the Stealth in 2014. “We got a lot of good performances out of everybody,” said Calgary assistant coach Bob McMahon, who noted that the Stealth played a solid game despite playing the night before (a 10-5 road loss to the Edmonton Rush). “They played really hard and they forced us to play hard, which was beneficial for us. We want to be good going into the playoffs.” Dobbie also had a hat trick to go with two helpers, while Shattler chipped in with two goals and four assists. Dickson fired three goals, while Snider (1g, 1a), Garrett McIntosh (1g), Leung (1g), Ranger (4a) and Veltman (2a) also contributed to the winning cause. Poulin made 33 saves in the Calgary net to record his 12th win of the season. Scigliano saw action in the fourth quarter and stopped three of four shots he faced. Tyler Digby and Rhys Duch led the Stealth attack with two goals and an assist each, while Cody Bremner had a goal and two assists. Ilija Gajic, Justin Salt and Tyler Garrison also scored for Vancouver, while goalie Matt Roik finished with 42 saves in a losing cause.
DOMINANT DOBBIE: Dobbie’s three-goal performance against the Stealth helped him break the previous franchise record of 50 set by Lewis Ratcliff in the 2007 season. Dobbie finished the 2014 NLL campaign with 51 goals in 18 games to lead all players in that category. “It’s nice to get three goals and set that (record), but it has a lot to do with our offence and guys moving the ball and finding me when I was open,” Dobbie said. “It was a good all-around offensive game for us and an all-around good game for everybody.”
MOUSE’S MUSINGS: Malawsky, who’s in his second season as Calgary’s head coach, said his players have high expectations heading into the playoffs a year after suffering a 10-8 setback to the Washington Stealth in the West Division championship game at home on May 7, 2013. “We’re really excited to get home in front of our own fans,” said Malawsky, who also serves as Calgary’s assistant general manager. “We’re excited for the playoffs. Our guys still have that bitter taste from the Western Final last year. We have a lot to prove as an organization, a lot to prove on the floor. We’re raring to go.” Malawsky is being assisted once again this season by Bob McMahon as offence coordinator and Bruce Codd as defence coordinator. It’s the fourth season for McMahon with the ’Necks, while Codd is in his second season on the Calgary coaching staff.
LOOSE BALL FRENZY: By scooping up 209 loose balls this season, Snider increased his totals in that category for the Riggers in the regular season to 847 with Calgary to set a new franchise record. Earlier this season, Snider moved past Kaleb Toth, who finished his career with 661 loose balls during his time with the ’Necks. With nine loose balls in Calgary’s 14-8 road win over Vancouver last Saturday, Snider moved past Shattler and into top spot on Calgary’s franchise leaderboard. Shattler had five loose balls against the Stealth to give him 845 through eight seasons, leaving him just two behind Snider for the franchise lead. Snider and Shattler are also neck-and-neck for the franchise record for loose balls in the playoffs. Snider is sitting at 86, while Shattler is six behind with 80.
EVANS ALMIGHTY: Since recording just one assist during Calgary’s 15-7 loss to Edmonton on March 14, Evans put up 39 points on 15 goals and 24 assists in Calgary’s last seven games of the regular season. Evans finished second in the NLL’s scoring parade with 105 points (26g, 79a), just five behind Cody Jamieson of the Rochester Knighthawks, who led the league with 110 points (36g, 72a). For the second straight season, Evans led the league in assists, but came up just one short of tying his franchise record of 80 helpers that he set last year. In his three seasons with the Roughnecks, Evans has recorded at least one point in 50 consecutive games. His single point against the Rush was his lowest total, while his best outing occurred during a 19-12 road win over the Mammoth on Jan. 25, 2013 when he racked up four goals and nine assists. That 13-point performance set a record that still stands for the highest output by a Roughneck in a single game. Overall, Evans is riding a 66-game point-scoring streak. In 142 career regular-season games, Evans has only been held scoreless on two occasions and one of those was in his very first NLL game with the K-Hawks on Jan. 7, 2006. Evans then went on a run of 75 straight games where he recorded at least one point before he was blanked during Rochester’s final regular season game of the 2010 season. In addition, Evans has recorded at least one point in all 10 playoff games he has played.
PLAYOFF MILESTONES WITHIN REACH
– Jeff Shattler and Dane Dobbie are both five points away from 50.
– Scott Ranger needs five points to reach 50.
– Geoff Snider is eight loose ball shy of 100.