Win and they’re in.
All the Calgary Roughnecks (6-11) have to do on Saturday night is win a road game against the Vancouver Stealth (5-12) to qualify for the 2015 National Lacrosse League playoffs.
Calgary started the season with an 18-14 setback versus Vancouver at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Jan. 3. The Riggers also dropped a 13-9 road decision to Vancouver on Valentine’s Day to fall to 0-6 before finally getting their first win of the season one week later – a 16-13 triumph at home over the Stealth on Feb. 21.
“I think the mantra since we went 0-6 was, ‘We’ve got to get in, we’ve got to try and get it’,” said assistant captain Mike Carnegie. “Where anything can happen, it feels good to be able to play one game and get in.
“The league is tight; there are a lot of great teams this year. If you have a couple bad games, you’re going to be behind the eight ball. Unfortunately that was our season, but that was the regular season. Now we’ve got the chance to play one game and have a different season.”
Because the ’Necks are 1-2 so far this year against the Stealth, Calgary needs to win Saturday’s game at the Langley Events Centre to qualify for the post-season.
“We’ve known that our destiny has been in our hands for the last little bit here and we’ve been trying our best to get into the playoffs for our fans and make a run at the championship,” said transition player Travis Cornwall. “We have confidence regardless of what our record was against them. At this point of the season, we’re not thinking at all about what happened before. It’s just about the next game and moving forward into the playoffs.”
In limited play with the Riggers this season, Cornwall, 25, has recorded four assists in five games. The fourth-year player from Coquitlam, B.C., is doing his best to remain upbeat during a trying season.
“You try to stay as positive as you can and be ready for your opportunity when it comes,” Cornwall said. “It’s been tough, but I’m just trying to stay positive. You can’t let that get to you as a player, because if it gets to you then it gets to the whole team because then you’re bringing it into the dressing room.”
Growing up playing for the Coquitlam Adanacs organization, Cornwall never had to worry about qualifying for post-season play.
“My entire life playing in Coquitlam, we were always like a very, very dominant team,” he said. “It was never a surprise that we were in provincials and always in the medal rounds and stuff like that. I don’t have much experience with a year like this and I’m not used to it. I don’t plan on ever having another season like this. For starting out 0-6 and to have a chance to be in the playoffs after a win in the final game, it’s pretty awesome.”
“Our guys trained real hard in the bye week,” said Calgary coach Curt Malawsky. “We’re going to be a very well prepared team and the guys are chomping at the bit to go.”
DID YOU KNOW?
Three of the five games Travis has played this season were against the Edmonton Rush. His younger brother Jeff plays defence for the Rush, which sits atop the NLL West Division standings with a 12-5 record. Travis noted that his parents Wendell and Lori-Ann Cornwall aren’t big fans of watching their sons go head-to-head against each other. “They prefer watching us when we’re not playing each other,” Travis said.
PLAYER PROFILE – #20 Travis Cornwall
Height & weight: 6-2, 208
Birthdate: Feb. 1, 1990
Hometown: Coquitlam, B.C.
Fast fact: Travis won a Minto Cup with the Coquitlam Adanacs in his hometown in 2010. His younger brother Jeff was also a member of the championship team. “It was awesome,” Travis said. “I spent most of my life growing up playing with the players that I won that with, so it was an awesome experience, especially winning it with my brother.”
Stat attack: Scored 10 goals and added four assists in 14 games during his rookie NLL campaign with the Roughnecks in 2012.
Occupation: Works for the City of Burnaby and is currently also working towards getting his teaching degree at Simon Fraser University.
Family ties: Younger brother Jeff, 23, plays defence for the Edmonton Rush and his younger sister, Nicole, 19, plays for the women’s volleyball team at Trinity Western University. “She won the national championship this year and she was tournament MVP,” said Travis, while proudly adding that Nicole is also trying out for the Canadian national women’s under-21 volleyball team.
Notable quotable: “We got our first lacrosse sticks at the same time when we were super young,” said Travis in regards to how he and Jeff got into lacrosse. “We grew up playing in the front yard together. I was always tutoring him on like scoring and stuff like that. He was more concerned with playing defence most of the time.”