BATTLE OF ALBERTA, ROUND 3: Looking to record their fifth straight victory, The Calgary Roughnecks (10-5) will face a tough test when they host the Edmonton Rush (14-0) at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday night (7 p.m.). Fresh off two road wins last weekend that secured Calgary second spot in the NLL’s West Division and a home playoff date, the Roughnecks will be looking to avenge two earlier losses this season that they suffered to the Rush. “They don’t have a lot of cracks in that armour and they don’t have a lot of holes,” said Calgary coach Curt Malawsky. “I think the motivation with our guys is: can we hang with the big dogs in the league? That’s going to have to be proven this Saturday night. We’re looking (forward) to a great challenge.” Prior to their visit to the ’Dome to play the Riggers, the Rush will face off against the Colorado Mammoth at Denver’s Pepsi Center on Friday night. “It’s another challenge for our guys,” said Edmonton assistant coach Jeff McComb in regards to the back-to-back games. “That’s the way we’re presenting it to them. We’re going to take one game at a time obviously, looking at Colorado on Friday night. It’s hard not to look at going into the Saddledome on Saturday night and playing against one of your rivals and I’m sure our guys will be up for it.” The teams will round out the season series with next weekend with a game in Edmonton at Rexall Place on April 19.
RUSH WIN ROUNDS 1 & 2: Dane Dobbie led the way for Calgary in 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 had three helpers each. Jeff 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 Riggers then fell 15-7 to the Rush in front of 10,691 fans at the ’Dome on March 14. “When you get down early, it’s tough to come back especially against a good team like Edmonton,” said Curtis Dickson, who scored four times and added an assist. Shattler had a goal and two assists for the ’Necks, while Dobbie (1g, 1a) and Reinholdt (1g) also scored. Poulin started in net for the Riggers and stopped 23 of 31 shots he faced. Scigliano made 24 saves in a relief appearance. Zach Greer led the way for the Rush with a hat trick, while former Roughnecks forward Cory Conway had two goals and two assists. Matthews (2g, 1a), Knight (2g, 1a), Corbeil (2g), Jeff Cornwall (1g, 2a), Jeremy Thompson (1g, 2a), Ryan Dilks (1g, 1a) and Nik Bilic (1g) also hit the scoresheet for Edmonton, while Bold made 27 saves to record the win.
ROUGHNECKS VS. RUSH: The Roughnecks boast an all-time record of 23-7 (9-4 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. Daryl 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. Greer (6g, 7a), Matthews (8g, 4a), Davis (7g, 5a) and Corey Small (6g, 5a) were the next top offensive contributors for the Rush.
WEEKEND WRAP: Dobbie and Evans led the way offensively last weekend as the Roughnecks won a pair of road games, 13-9 over the Philadelphia Wings on Friday and 16-13 over the Buffalo Bandits the next night. Dobbie, who counted four goals and assist in both games, has scored 45 times this season to lead all NLL players in that category. His closest pursuer is Toronto forward Stephan Leblanc, who is nine back with 36 goals. “He’s a warrior,” said Malawsky, who praised Dobbie for his willingness to go to the tough areas to score goals. “He’ll go right in the middle. He’ll get his head taken off and you’re not going to deter him from getting there. It’s a testament to Dane’s compete and battle. It’s no fluke that he gets big goals late in games.” Meanwhile, Evans had a hat trick and four helpers against the Wings before duplicating his seven-point performance with two goals and five assists in the win over the Bandits. Against Buffalo, Calgary trailed 4-0 in the first quarter, 7-3 in the second and 12-9 after the third before reeling off seven goals in the final frame for the come-from-behind victory. “One thing with us is we never gave up,” Evans said. “The fourth quarter has been our strongest quarter of the year, so we chipped away and kept going and the balls started finding the back of the net. It was good team win.” Shattler scored twice and set up three others in the win over the Wings. Leung scored the game’s first goal and added three assists, while Dickson (1g, 2a), Veltman (1g, 1a) and Snider (1g) also scored. Poulin played well in the Calgary net as he made 45 saves, while adding three assists for good measure. Snider had a great game against Buffalo as he notched the game-winning goal to go with two assists. He also scooped up 11 loose balls, while winning 24 of 31 faceoff attempts. Dickson scored a pair of clutch fourth-quarter goals, while Veltman (2g, 2a) Leung (1g, 1a), Jon Harnett (1g, 1a) and Shattler (4a) also had multi-point performances. Defencemen Garrett McIntosh, Curtis Manning and Greg Harnett chipped in with a goal apiece. Poulin made 36 saves to record his 10th win of the season. Scigliano also saw 10:42 of playing time in the first half and stopped six of eight shots he faced.
MOUSE’S MUSINGS: Malawsky, who is in his second season as head coach for the Roughnecks, said the Roughnecks can’t afford to fall behind to the Rush on Saturday and expect to pull off another come-from-behind win like they did against the Bandits last weekend. “If you go down three or four goals to the Edmonton Rush in the fourth quarter, I don’t know if there’s much chance to come back at them,” said Malawsky, who also serves as Calgary’s assistant general manager. “Our focus is going to have to be hanging around and just competing with these guys for 60 minutes if you want to be successful against the top team.” 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, who is currently riding a 12-game goal-scoring streak, is tied for fourth among NLL goal scorers at 33 with Colorado’s John Grant Jr. Only Dobbie (45), Toronto’s Stephan Leblanc (36) and Vancouver’s Rhys Duch (34) 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 14. He has now compiled 15 career short-handed goals, three more than Kelusky.
FACEOFF ACE: Snider continued his dominance in the faceoff circle during Calgary’s two wins last weekend as he won 37 of 51 attempts in that department. Last month, 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 2,167 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 110). The hometown Calgary product has also scooped up 1,707 loose balls in 119 games, placing him third all-time behind Jim Veltman and John Tavares in that category. With 180 loose balls this season, Snider has increased his totals in that category for the Riggers in the regular season to 818 during just his fourth season with Calgary. Earlier this season, Snider 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 831 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.
EVANS ALMIGHTY: Since recording just one assist during Calgary’s 15-7 loss to Edmonton on March 14, Evans has put up 22 points on eight goals and 14 assists in Calgary’s past four games, all wins. In his three seasons with the Roughnecks, Evans has recorded at least one point in 47 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 63-game point-scoring streak. In 140 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.
RIGGERS STAND PAT AT DEADLINE: The National Lacrosse League’s trade deadline came and went on March 18 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. MT deadline passed. “We didn’t end up doing anything this year so we’ll move forward with what we’ve got.” With just three games remaining on Calgary’s schedule, 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?: Until last weekend, the Roughnecks hadn’t played a road game in Buffalo since their second season in the league in 2003 when they made their only two previous trips out East to face the Bandits in their home arena. Calgary dropped a 23-17 decision to Buffalo in the regular season on Jan. 25, 2003 before the Riggers also lost their first-ever NLL playoff contest 16-9 to the Bandits on April 19 of that same year. Thanks to their 16-13 win last Saturday over the Bandits at Buffalo’s First Niagara Center, the Riggers have now won at least one game in every current NLL arena.
MILESTONES WITHIN REACH
– Dane Dobbie is six goals shy of setting a franchise record for most goals in a single season. The current record is 50, set by Lewis Ratcliff in 2007. Dobbie also needs just two loose balls to reach 300.
– Shawn Evans is 12 assists away from breaking the franchise record he set last year for most assists in a single season (80). With 25 more points, Evans can also surpass the franchise record he set last year for most points in a season (112).
– Mike Carnegie is six points away from 50.
– Jeff Shattler needs 17 goals to reach 200.