ADDED INCENTIVE: The Calgary Roughnecks (7-5) have a bit of extra motivation when they host the Minnesota Swarm (3-9) at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday night (7 p.m.). Not only do the Riggers want to build on a 13-8 road win over the Vancouver Stealth on March 24, they want to erase the memory of a 15-7 setback at home to the Edmonton Rush on March 21. “The last time we played there, we let the crowd down,” noted Calgary coach Curt Malawsky, while noting that his squad can’t take the Swarm lightly. “They always play us tough in Calgary. It’s usually a shootout and we’re hoping that’s not going to be the case. We’ll shore up our defence a little bit like in the last couple of games. They’re a very good outside shooting team. Everybody knows they are a very good transition team that pushes the ball well.” The ’Necks can also clinch a playoff berth with a win over the Swarm combined with the Stealth losing its home game to the Buffalo Bandits on Saturday as well. Meanwhile, Minnesota will be looking to build on a thrilling 10-9 overtime win over the Bandits at the Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul, MN, last Saturday. “The mood is great and we’re just going to try to keep this momentum and keep it going,” said Minnesota transition player David Earl. “We’re in a hole now but we just got to take it one game at a time, one win at a time.”
STEALTH STOPPED: The Roughnecks came out firing with eight goals in the first half on March 24 against the Stealth and hung on for a 13-8 victory at the Langley Events Centre. Dane Dobbie led the offensive attack for the Riggers with four goals and four assists, while Curtis Dickson had a hat trick and three helpers. Shawn Evans had a goal and three assists, while Daryl Veltman (2g, 2a), Geoff Snider (1g, 2a), Matthew Dinsdale (1g, 2a), Jeff Shattler (1g, 1a) and Karsen Leung (2a) finished with multi-point performances. Rigger netminder Mike Poulin finished the game with 45 stops to record the win. Calgary captain Andrew McBride spoke highly of Poulin’s performance. “Not only did he make great saves, he made really timely saves and that’s even more important as a goalie,” McBride said. “When teams are going on runs, to be able to halt the tide and make that stop … he stood in there and was big in there for us.” Former Roughneck Lewis Ratcliff finished with three goals and three assists for the Stealth in a losing effort. Rhys Duch scored twice and set up two others, while Brett Bucktooth (1g, 2a), Tyler Digby (1g, 1a) and Jamie Lincoln (1g, 1a) also hit the scoresheet. Matt Roik and Tyler Richards split time in the Vancouver net, making a combined 36 saves in defeat.
SWARM STUNG: A strong second half led the Roughnecks to a 15-13 win over the Swarm in Saint Paul on Feb. 8. “We came out with a lot of energy,” said Dickson, who had five goals and an assist. “We came out hot and they had the goalie change at half that we took advantage of. We put a few quick ones by the cold goalie and we kept it rolling from there.” Evans had a strong game for Calgary with eight assists, while Daryl Veltman also got in on the action with two goals and four helpers. Dobbie had a hat trick to go with an assist, while Leung (2g), Shattler (1g, 2a), Snider (1g, 1a) and Dan MacRae (1g) also scored. Led by a natural hat trick by Shayne Jackson, the Swarm pulled within one goal late in the fourth quarter. However, the comeback hopes were dashed when Dickson scored his fifth of the night on a penalty shot in the final minute. Jackson also had two assists for a five-point night. Jordan MacIntosh also had a hat trick to go with three assists, while Alex Crepinsek, Mike Hobbins, Cam Flint, Logan Schuss, Andrew Suitor, Callum Crawford and Kiel Matisz also scored. Poulin stood tall in the Calgary net, stopping 33 of 46 shots, while Tyler Carlson and Zach Higgins combined for 28 saves on 43 shots for Minnesota.
ROUGHNECKS VS. SWARM: Calgary went 2-0 against Minnesota during the 2013 NLL campaign. The Riggers edged the Swarm 17-16 on Feb. 16 in St. Paul and then downed Minnesota 19-15 at home less than a month later on March 8. Evans paced the Calgary attack against Minnesota last season with three goals and 16 assists, while Dobbie chipped in by scoring nine times to go with six helpers. Scott Ranger (8g, 5a), Shattler (6g, 5a) and Dickson (5g, 3a) also fared well against the Swarm in 2013. Poulin was in net for both wins over Minnesota last season, making 67 saves along the way. Ryan Benesch, who’s now with the Buffalo Bandits, led the Swarm attack last season against the ’Necks with seven goals and six assists. The Riggers will have to be wary of current Swarm forwards Matisz (4g, 7a), Jackson (3g, 7a) and Crawford (3g, 7a), who all hit double digits in points against Calgary last year. The Roughnecks have compiled an all-time record of 9-5 (5-3 at home, 4-2 on the road) in the regular season against the Swarm.
MOUSE’S MUSINGS: Nicknamed ‘Mouse’, Curt Malawsky is entering his second season as head coach for the Roughnecks. Malawsky, who is also the assistant general manager, said his squad will definitely have to be wary of a motivated Minnesota squad, especially since the Swarm are coming off an emotional OT win over the Bandits. “To get a big overtime win like that it really brings the emotion of a team up; they’re going to be fired right up to come into our rink,” Malawsky said. “They’re going to be coming in on a high and we’re going to have to match that intensity and compete level if we want to be successful against them.” 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.
SHARP SHOOTER: Dickson’s three-goal performance last weekend against the Stealth vaulted him into a tie for third at 29 for the NLL’s goal-scoring lead with Garrett Billings of the Toronto Rock. Only Dobbie (35) and Toronto’s Stephan LeBlanc (30) have scored more. Dickson admitted his start to the season wasn’t what he hoped for, but quickly pointed out that the supporting cast of offensive talent has helped him find his groove again. “Obviously, I had a slow start there, but I’ve been feeling it as of late and as cliché as it sounds, I’ve been saying it over and over again, playing with the guys I do on offence they make your life a heck of a lot easier,” he said. “Guys like Veltman, Dobbie, Shattler, Evans, Marty (Dinsdale) out there feeding you the ball; if you get open they’re putting it in your stick so it’s just a matter of putting in the back of the net.” Dickson also made history earlier this season when he scored while the Riggers were playing a man down in the third quarter of Calgary’s 15-13 road win over Minnesota on Feb. 8. That moved him out of a tie with Roughnecks legend Tracey Kelusky to become the franchise leader in all-time short-handed goals during the regular season. Dickson added two more shorties during Calgary’s 15-7 setback at home to the Rush on March 21. He has now compiled 15 career short-handed goals, three more than Kelusky.
FACEOFF ACE: Snider continued his dominance in the faceoff circle against the Stealth last weekend as he won 17 of 23 attempts in that department. With his stellar performance, Snider surpassed Jamie Hanford’s previous all-time NLL record for faceoff wins of 2,091. Now in his eighth NLL season, Snider has amassed a career total of 2,108 faceoff wins. “I just think is shows how long I’ve been in the league,” Snider said. “I don’t know if it’s necessarily correlated to winning a lot of faceoffs. I’m old and I’ve been around a long time and when you get old you play in games and there’s statistics (like that) that just show up. It’s part of my role and I’ve just been competing and trying to help my team win.” Snider also surpassed the 100-goal plateau this season (he’s at 107) and he’s just two points shy of 250. The hometown Calgary product has also scooped up 1,672 loose balls in 116 games, placing him third all-time behind Jim Veltman and John Tavares in that category. With 145 loose balls this season, Snider has increased his totals in that category for the Riggers in the regular season to 783 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 820 loose balls, while Snider is quickly closing that 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.
RIGGERS STAND PAT AT DEADLINE: The National Lacrosse League’s trade deadline came and went on March 11 and Calgary’s roster didn’t change as the Riggers stood pat for the second straight year. General manager Mike Board admitted his phone was busy leading up to the deadline but he ultimately couldn’t pull the trigger on anything. “We were busy, we were pro-active too,” Board said shortly after the 1 p.m. deadline passed. “We didn’t end up doing anything this year so we’ll move forward with what we’ve got.” With just six games remaining on Calgary’s schedule, the playoff race is wide open, but Board is content with his club’s roster. “We’re very happy with our group,” he said. “It’s always a work in progress and you want to peak at the right time in the season, but we like our personnel so that’s part of the reason why we didn’t end up doing anything because we didn’t think that we would get an upgrade on what we’ve already got.”
DID YOU KNOW?: After recording just one assist during Calgary’s 15-7 loss to Edmonton on March 14, Evans rebounded with a goal and three helpers a week later as the Riggers downed the Stealth 13-8. In his three seasons with the Roughnecks, Evans has recorded at least one point in 44 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 Colorado 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 60-game point-scoring streak. In 137 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 Rochester Knighthawks 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.
MILESTONES WITHIN REACH
– Geoff Snider is two points shy of 250.
– By scooping up five more loose balls, Peter McFetridge will reach 200.
– Dane Dobbie is six loose balls shy of 300.
– Mike Carnegie is six points away from 50.
– Shawn Evans needs to scoop up seven loose balls to reach 800.
– Greg Harnett is seven loose balls shy of 100.
– Jeff Shattler needs 21 goals to reach 200.