CALGARY, AB — The path to the playoffs lies through the Vancouver Stealth.
The Calgary Roughnecks Western rival is their sole remaining competitor for the final playoff spot and with a game this weekend and next, things are about to get interesting.
The first of the two games will take place at the Rough House this weekend.
While neither team can secure a spot in the postseason with a win in this game, it does carry quite heavy playoff implications.
The game pits the West Division’s two worst teams in a contest that guarantees to be exciting, physical, and emotional.
In their last meeting, the Roughnecks exploded out of the gates – thanks to Curtis Dickson, who registered five goals in the first half. Holding a 12-5 lead in the third quarter, they let their foot off the gas and the Stealth snuck back into the game. Eventually, Vancouver tied the game and took the lead.
Calgary managed to forced overtime on a buzzer beating goal by Reilly O’Connor, but Corey Small put the dagger into the heart of the Roughnecks by scoring the game-winner 1:16 into overtime.
That come from behind win for the Stealth tied the season series at one game apiece. The two games have been won by a combined three goals, showing how close these two teams are.
With 57 goals scores between the two games, it is pretty evident that the red light may be set off quite a few times on Saturday.
Defence has been an issue for Vancouver this season, as they’ve allowed 180 goals in 13 games so far this season. Meanwhile, the Roughnecks have only given up 174 goals through 15 games.
While the return of goaltender Tyler Richards has been helpful, he still sits 10th in the NLL with a 12.40 GAA. That is still much better than back-up Eric Penney, who is second last with a 14.11 GAA.
On the other end of the floor, Mike Poulin has been fantastic for the Roughnecks. The Poulin Wall is third in the league in GAA at 10.84 and second in save percentage at .787 percent.
As mentioned prior, this game will be extremely important and things could heated. If that becomes the case, the penalty box may see quite a bit of action on Saturday.
On a per game basis, the Stealth average five more penalty minutes than the Roughnecks – something that could have significant consequence if it rings true.
While Calgary’s home power play (40.6 percent) has not been great this season, it’s not wise to give lethal scorers like Curtis Dickson.
Speaking of Dickson, the right-handed forward tied the Roughnecks single-season record for goals in a season last weekend and will be looking to set a new record this weekend. Dane Dobbie set the record two years ago when he scored 51 goals and led the NLL in the category.
With five goals against Vancouver last time around, Dickson is set to write his name in Roughnecks history this Saturday. And with three games remaining on the schedule, it’s quite possible that he sets the record quite high.
Obviously, setting the record is not the focus for Dickson. He will be focused on getting a win in the contest, regardless of scoring a goal or not.