BATTLE OF ALBERTA, PART 2: The Calgary Roughnecks (6-4) have a lot on the line when they face the Edmonton Rush (9-0) at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Friday night (7 p.m.). Not only will they be attempting to avenge a 15-8 loss to the Rush in Edmonton on Jan. 17, the Riggers also have their sights set on rebounding from a tough 10-9 overtime loss to the Colorado Mammoth in Denver last Saturday. “We’re hoping to put in a complete game here and see where we end up when it’s all said and done after 60 minutes,” said Calgary coach Curt Malawsky. “It’s a really good challenge for our guys. I know after last weekend, they’re just champing at the bit to get back at it because I don’t think they felt that they put their best performance forward. I expect our group to rise to the occasion. I like our chances on Friday night.” Meanwhile, Edmonton is coming off a 10-9 triumph over the Vancouver Stealth at home last Saturday. With the win, the Rush set a new NLL record for the best-ever start to a season, eclipsing the previous record of 8-0 set by the Buffalo Bandits back in 1993. “We’ve got 20 guys on that roster that are really willing to do whatever’s asked of them and I think that’s why we’ve had the success that we’ve had,” said Edmonton assistant coach Jimmy Quinlan, while adding that the Rush will face a tough task against the Riggers on Friday. “We’ve always looked at them as the big brother down the road. They’re the measuring stick for us. We still feel that way this year. We obviously look forward to the opportunity. We know we’re going to have our hands full, that’s for sure.”
RUSH WIN ROUND 1: Dane Dobbie led the way for Calgary against Edmonton on Jan. 17 as he had a hat trick and an assist during Calgary’s 15-8 road loss to the Rush. Scott Ranger scored twice during the setback, while Karsen Leung and Shawn Evans both put up three helpers each. Shattler had a goal and two assists, while Geoff Snider and Tor Reinholdt added singles. Mark Matthews, the 2013 NLL Rookie of the Year, led the Rush with four goals and three helpers, while Curtis Knight (4g, 1a), Chris Corbeil (3g, 2a), Robert Church (2g, 1a), Jarrett Davis (1g, 2a) and John LaFontaine (1g) and also got in on the action. Rush goalie Aaron Bold made 38 saves to record the win. Calgary netminder Frankie Scigliano, who made 23 saves, ended up taking the loss. Mike Poulin also saw time in net as he stopped 14 of 21 shots he faced. The teams will round out the season series with a home-and-home set on April 12th (at Calgary) and 19th (at Edmonton).
EDGED IN OT: Despite jumping out to an early 5-0 lead over the Colorado Mammoth in Denver last Saturday, the Roughnecks wound up on the losing end of a 10-9 overtime decision. The loss put a halt to Calgary’s four-game winning streak. As Jeff Shattler put it after the game, the matchup could be boiled down to lopsided special teams. In a very physical game, the Mammoth were rewarded with seven power plays, including a five-minute major in the fourth quarter, while the ’Necks were not granted a single man advantage the entire night. “We didn’t have a power play all game, and it’s not right to have a lacrosse game where a team doesn’t have a single power play, especially how vicious the game can be in the corners,” said Shattler, who led both teams with four goals on the night. “That played a big part.” Colorado took full advantage of the power play, firing three goals with the man advantage. It was fitting on a night where the Mammoth were supporting “Lacrosse Out Cancer” that Sean Pollock was the overtime hero as his wife Jenna is a breast cancer survivor. “What the Mammoth organization did for cancer was first-class the entire way,” Malawsky said. “It was very special and something that touched everyone.” Shawn Evans finished the night with six helpers to surpass 400-career NLL assists. Daryl Veltman scored a pair of goals and set up another, while Curtis Dickson (1g, 1a), Geoff Snider (1g, 1a) and Dan MacRae (1g) rounded out the scoring for Calgary. Drew Westervelt (2g, 2a) and Casey Powell (2g, 2a) both posted four-point efforts for the Mammoth, while Pollock added two goals in regulation to finish the game with a hat trick. John Grant Jr. (1g, 5a), Athan Iannucci (1g, 1a) and Joel Dalgarno (1g, 3a) also scored for the home squad. Dillon Ward made 35 saves in the Mammoth net to pick up the win, while Calgary goalie Mike Poulin stopped 44 of 54 shots he faced at the other end of the floor.
ROUGHNECKS VS. RUSH: The Roughnecks boast an all-time record of 23-6 (9-3 at home, 14-3 on the road) in the regular season against the Rush. The 23 wins over Edmonton are the most that Calgary has recorded against any NLL franchise. Calgary went 3-1 in the regular season against Edmonton last year. The Riggers started the 2013 season against the Rush with back-to-back wins (18-15 in Edmonton on Feb. 2 and 9-8 at home a week later) before dropping an 18-13 road decision on March 2. The ’Necks then captured the season series with a 12-11 win over the Rush in Edmonton on April 20. Both Shattler (7g, 15a) and Evans (6g, 16a) piled up 22 points each for Calgary in the four-game set against Edmonton. Veltman was also dangerous with eight goals and 11 assists, while Dickson (10g, 2a) and Ranger (3g, 7a) reached double figures in points as well. Poulin played in goal for Calgary in all four games, winning three of them. Ryan Ward, who’s no longer playing for Edmonton, consistently paced the Rush attack last season against the Riggers as he finished with seven goals and 14 assists in the four games. Zack Greer (6g, 7a), Matthews (8g, 4a), Davis (7g, 5a) and Corey Small (6g, 5a) were the next top offensive contributors for the Rush.
MOUSE’S MUSINGS: Nicknamed ‘Mouse’, Curt Malawsky is in his second season as head coach for the Roughnecks. Malawsky noted that his players are definitely out to avenge the 15-8 setback they suffered to the Rush in Edmonton on Jan. 17. “I think the guys are going to take away from it how handily they beat us,” Malawsky said. “They’re solid from top to bottom right from their goaltender out. If you take your foot of the pedal for any moment in time in that game, you’re going to be buried. You get down by five; they step on your throat. We’re hoping to keep it close.” Malawsky is once again being assisted this season by Bob McMahon as offence coordinator and Bruce Codd as defence coordinator. It’s the fourth season for McMahon on the Calgary coaching staff, while Codd is in his second season with the ’Necks.
MILESTONE MOMENTS: Poulin and Dickson reached milestone moments on March 1 in Calgary’s 19-13 win over the Toronto Rock at the Saddledome. The goalie known as the “Poulin Wall” stopped 48 of 61 shots fired his way to become the franchise leader in regular-season saves, surpassing the previous mark of 2,117 held by Curtis “Shut the Door” Palidwor. “It means a lot playing in the home barn in front of the home fans,” said Poulin, who has since increased his save totals during his time with the Riggers to 2,174. “It’s one of those things that you kind of share it with your D guys and you share it with everybody in the organization so I’m thrilled.” Meanwhile, Dickson lived up to his ‘Superman’ nickname as he set a career high for points in a game with six goals and four assists. “I had no idea – it’s cool,” said Dickson, who also made history on Feb. 8 when he scored while the Riggers were playing a man down in the third quarter of Calgary’s 15-13 road win over the Minnesota Swarm. Dickson is now the franchise leader in all-time short-handed goals during the regular season with 13, one more than Roughnecks legend Tracey Kelusky. … With his 11-point performance during a 20-9 drubbing of the Vancouver Stealth at home on Feb. 15, Evans surpassed the 600-point plateau. The nine-year NLL veteran has racked up 218 goals to go with 401 assists for 619 points in 135 career regular-season games.
DID YOU KNOW?: Having scooped up 133 loose balls this season, Snider has increased his totals in that category for the Riggers in the regular season to 771 during just his fourth season with Calgary. Snider has moved past Kaleb Toth, who finished his career with 661 loose balls during his time with the ’Necks, and into second spot behind Shattler on the franchise leader board. In eight seasons with the Riggers, Shattler has collected 815 loose balls, while Snider is quickly closing the gap. 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.
MILESTONES WITHIN REACH
– Dane Dobbie is three assists shy of 200 and nine loose balls away from 300.
– Mike Carnegie is six points away from 50.
– Geoff Snider is six penalty minutes shy of 500.
– Jeff Shattler needs 23 goals to reach 200 and just one more penalty minute to hit 100.