CALGARY, AB — Although Jeff Shattler reached a pair of memorable milestones on Saturday, he would have rather helped his Calgary Roughnecks clinch a National Lacrosse League playoff berth.
Shattler scored four goals and added four assists for the Roughnecks (7-10), who dropped a 13-12 decision to the Vancouver Stealth at the Langley Events Centre.
“It was a missed opportunity for us, but there’s still a lot of things that can happen for us to get into the playoffs,” said Shattler, whose first goal of the game gave him 600 career NLL points.
Cliff Smith scored a pair of goals in the fourth quarter, including the game winner at 8:15, for the Stealth (4-11), which will need to win its final three games to have a chance to finish third in the NLL’s West Division.
The Riggers can clinch the final West Division playoff berth with one more Stealth loss or a win over the Toronto Rock during their final game of the season on Saturday, April 30 at the Scotiabank Saddledome (7 p.m.).
“Destiny’s still in our own hands when we’re playing Toronto in two weeks and then they’ve got to win out, so there’s a lot of things that could happen before we even play Toronto,” said Shattler, who also scooped up nine loose balls to surpass 1,000 for his career in that category. “We’re keeping our heads high and getting ready for the next one.”
Tyler Digby also scored four times for the Riggers, while Curtis Dickson finished with two goals and four assists. Wesley Berg scored once and set up two others, Jon Harnett had a goal and an assist, while goalie Mike Poulin stopped 46 of 59 shots he faced.
“Another one-goal game for us,” said Calgary coach Curt Malawsky. “This team never gives up, never gets blown out no matter what goes against us. You just need to keep pushing forward and keep looking through the windshield and that’s what we’ve been doing.
“We’ll get ourselves healthy over the next two weeks. The guys know that they’ve got to hit the gym in the two weeks to prepare for Toronto and get ourselves into the final playoff spot.”
Logan Schuss led the way for the Stealth with a three goals and four helpers, while Jordan Durston also had a hat trick to go with an assist. Rhys Duch scored twice and set up six others for Vancouver, Corey Small had two goals and an assist, while Ian Hawksbee also scored.
Stealth goalie Tyler Richards made 42 saves to backstop Vancouver to victory.
When Shattler opened the scoring 32 seconds into the game, it was the 600th point of his NLL career which started with one game with the Buffalo Bandits at the end of the 2006 season followed by a decade of being an integral part of Calgary’s offence.
“It’s a great accomplishment and I’m glad my wife was up in the stands to see it and I got to help out my team tonight,” said Shattler. “Time flies. Mouse always tells us, ‘Don’t take it for granted.’
“I look back and now this is my 11th year in the league and it’s flown by. I feel great. I feel like I’m in tip-top shape and I feel like I can do this for a lot longer. I’m just excited to be a part of this team and help them out in any way I can.”
Malawsky was happy to see Shattler reach such lofty standards in his career.
“He came into the league as a defensive, transition guy and then he becomes the MVP of the NLL (in 2011),” said Malawsky. “It’s no fluke that he’s having the season that he’s had. If you look at those 600 points, I bet the majority of those come at big moments in key games. That’s what we love about Jeff. His resurgence has been a big part of our push to the playoffs.”
Digby and Shattler then scored back-to-back power-play markers for the ’Necks, before Durston replied with a goal during a man advantage for the Stealth.
Duch pulled the Stealth to within a goal at 14:11 of the first quarter before Schuss and Small scored goals 30 seconds apart early in the second to put Vancouver up 4-3.
Following a breakaway goal by Shattler, Berg scooped up a rebound and flicked a quick shot past Richards at 6:19 of the second. Shattler then scored his fourth goal of the game 21 seconds later when he leapt high in the air and snapped a shot past Richards to put the Riggers up 6-4.
The Stealth answered right back with goals by Schuss and Small before Digby fired a shot into the top, left corner behind Richards to put the ’Necks back up by one.
Hawksbee then tied things up at 7-7 with a breakaway goal with exactly one minute remaining in the first half.
Durston and Duch scored goals 21 seconds apart in the third quarter to give Vancouver a two-goal lead before the Riggers answered back with goals by Harnett at 9:48 and Digby 54 seconds later.
After Schuss completed his hat trick at 12:09, Dickson absolutely wired a rising submarine shot into the top corner behind Richards 41 seconds later.
Dickson opened the fourth quarter with a short-handed goal at 2:12 before Smith and Durston replied with power-play markers for the Stealth.
After Smith bounced a shot past Poulin to put the Stealth up 13-12, Digby notched his fourth of the night with 6.2 seconds remaining on the clock to round out the scoring.