BRING ON THE RUSH: By virtue of a 16-15 overtime win over the Colorado Mammoth last Saturday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome, the Calgary Roughnecks punched their ticket to the NLL’s West Division Finals against the Edmonton Rush. The Riggers will host Game 1 of the two-game affair at the ’Dome this Saturday (7 p.m.). The series will then head to Edmonton for Game 2 at Rexall Place on Friday, May 16 (8 p.m.). If the teams split the series, there will be a 10-minute mini game immediately following the second game to decide who advances to the NLL Champion’s Cup series. “I think it’s going to be a great series for the fans,” said Calgary coach Curt Malawsky. “I think the boys are going to be fired up. There’s not a lot of love lost between the two teams — they’ve played us very tough this year. They’ve had our number.” Edmonton coach Derek Keenan expects the ’Necks to provide a tough challenge for his squad, which finished atop the NLL standings in the regular season with a 16-2 record. “It’s going to be a good one — it always is with Calgary,” Keenan said. “The stakes are high now and our guys are going to be ready. We had a good practice on the weekend and got an opportunity to watch the [Calgary] game live and saw quite a game — just an example of how the intensity level and everything on the floor increases — the speed of the game and the intensity level was ramped in and I expect it to be the same this weekend.”
MAMMOTH VICTORY: Shawn Evans took full advantage of his opportunity to lead the Roughnecks over the Mammoth in OT last Saturday. Evans scored at 1:23 of the extra session to cap off a four-goal, five-assist performance. “Get a shot, we’ll win this game,” said Evans of his mindset heading into OT. “We got a shot, we won the game.” Following a big save by Calgary goaltender Mike Poulin, the Riggers marched down the floor and Evans spun and fired a shot from the top past Colorado goalie Dillon Ward to send the crowd of 12,375 fans at the Scotiabank Saddledome into a frenzy. “I just tried to bulldoze my way to the middle and I got an opening and I let ’er rip,” Evans said. “Seeing the ball hit the back of the mesh was the biggest thrill.” Dane Dobbie also scored four times and set up four others, while Curtis Dickson notched a hat trick and added three assists. Jeff Shattler had two goals and two helpers, Geoff Snider also scored a pair, while Daryl Veltman had a goal and six assists. Adam Jones had five goals to lead the Mammoth attack, while veteran John Grant Jr. scored twice and set up five others. Athan Iannucci had two goals and two assists, while Cameron Holding, Sean Pollock, Dan Coates, Bob Snider, Joey Cupido and Joel Dalgarno also scored. Poulin finished with 35 saves, including one on a long-range shot by Jones in overtime.
ROUGHNECKS VS. RUSH: The Roughnecks went 1-3 against the Rush in the 2014 regular season. The Riggers opened the season series between the two squads on Jan. 17 with a 15-8 setback in Edmonton to the Rush. Two months later on March 14, the Rush also prevailed 15-7 over the ’Necks, this time at the Saddledome. The two teams wrapped up their four-game set with a home-and-home series in mid-April. After Edmonton downed Calgary 15-11 on April 12 at the ’Dome, the Riggers responded with a 14-13 overtime triumph a week later at Rexall Place as Dickson scored his seventh goal of the contest in the extra session to avert a season sweep at the hands of their northern rivals. After failing to get on the scoresheet in the first game of the season series against Edmonton, Dickson fired 12 goals and added four assists in the remaining three contests. Dobbie paced Calgary’s scoring attack against the Rush with seven goals and 10 helpers in the four-game set, while Evans (4g, 10a), Veltman (1g, 12a) and Shattler (7g, 5a) also reached double figures. Curtis Knight led all Rush scorers with 12 goals and eight helpers against Calgary in the regular season, while Mark Matthews was also dangerous as he scored 11 times and set up seven others. Robert Church had points in all four games for the Rush as he finished with six goals and nine helpers, while Chris Corbeil (9g, 5a), Cory Conway (2g, 13a) and Jarrett Davis (3g, 9a) also surpassed the 10-point plateau. While the Rush won the season series against the Riggers, Calgary has compiled an all-time record of 24-8 (9-5 at home, 15-3 on the road) against Edmonton in the regular season.
DID YOU KNOW?: Edmonton and Calgary have met twice previously in the playoffs with the Rush prevailing on both occasions, both times at the Saddledome. The Rush downed the Riggers 11-7 on May 1, 2010 in the West Division Semi-Final and then duplicated that same feat two years later with a 19-11 victory in Calgary on May 5, 2012. When the two Alberta rivals face off at Rexall Place on Friday, May 16, it will mark a significant milestone for the Rush, which will be hosting a playoff game for the first time in their nine-year history.
MOUSE’S MUSINGS: Malawsky, who’s in his second season as Calgary’s head coach, said he’s looking forward to this year’s playoff edition of the Battle of Alberta. “It’s great for the league and great for the province,” said Malawsky, who also serves as Calgary’s assistant general manager. “I honestly believe that we were the two best teams in the West Division — no disrespect to the Mammoth, they made a good push. The two best teams in that division are playing each other for the West [Division] championship and I don’t think it should be any other way. Edmonton has had a phenomenal season and outside of our three losses against Edmonton, we only lost three other games to give us six losses.” 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.
CAPTAIN’S COMMENT: According to Calgary captain Andrew McBride, this is a great time for professional lacrosse in Alberta. “I think it shows a lot [about] the organizations who have put the pieces in place to have successful franchises,” said McBride, who holds the Roughnecks franchise record for most playoff games played at 19. “I think we’re the two top teams in the West. Edmonton was the cream of the crop in the regular season — they had an amazing season. They accomplished some great things but we’re confident. In the playoffs, we can rise up to the challenge. We’ve got a lot of guys that have been in positions that have won before and we’re going to have to rely on that experience to get the job done. The ’Dome is going to be rocking. We’re really proud we can have that first home game and I think you’re going to see some really exciting games that are going to showcase both teams’ top-end talent.”
DOMINANT DOBBIE: Dobbie’s three-goal performance during a 14-8 road win for Calgary against the Vancouver Stealth on April 26 helped him break the previous regular-season 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.
OH CANADA: When the Canadian Lacrosse Association announced the 24 players selected to the Canadian National Men’s Field Lacrosse Team earlier this week, it included a pair of Roughnecks. Dickson and Snider were among the group of players chosen to compete for Team Canada at the Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) World Championships on July 10-19 in Denver, Colorado.
PLAYOFF MILESTONES WITHIN REACH
Jeff Shattler needs just one point to reach 50 and three assists to set a new franchise record for career playoff assists. Kaleb Toth holds the current record with 34 helpers, while Shattler is right behind at 32.
By suiting up for Saturday’s contest, Andrew McBride will increase his franchise record for playoff games played to 20.
Scott Ranger is four points away from 50.
Dane Dobbie is within striking distance of a pair of franchise playoff records. Tracey Kelusky currently holds the franchise marks for both post-season points (60) and goals (34). With eight more points, Dobbie will surpass Kelusky, while he needs to score 10 times to take over the career playoff goal-scoring lead.