By Wings beat writer Julie Kayzerman & Roughnecks beat writer Kassidy Collins for NLL.com
It’s all about the postseason this weekend as the Philadelphia Wings (5-9) need a win to help keep their playoff chances alive when they host the Calgary Roughnecks (8-5), who are one win away from clinching a spot in the West Division, on Friday at Wells Fargo Center at 7 p.m. ET. Watch the game live on YouTube via The Lacrosse Network.
Coming off of two exciting and hard-earned weekend wins, the Wings look to use that momentum in hopes of putting another “W” in the books, on Friday night.
“When you’ve won five games, trust me every game that you win is cause for celebration,” Wings head coach Blane Harrison said of his team’s recent success. “Every game has been a crazy game for us this year. We’ve gone up and down on a rollercoaster but the last couple of games we’ve found a bit of a turnaround and hopefully we can turn that turnaround into a run here.”
Harrison continued to stress that although his team has clawed their way back into playoff contention, they still have to come out big.
“Destiny’s in our hands,” Harrison said. “We’ve got to take care of business but there’s a lot of heavy lifting ahead of us—we’re not blind to that—starting with the game Friday night.”
With Calgary also hot off of two wins and one game away from clinching, it’ll be a competitive battle between the two teams as the Wings fight to stay alive.
“I think we’re in a pretty unique situation in that we’re playing better ball late in the season,” Wings defender Eric Hoffman said. “It’s always nice to feel like you’re playing closer to your best in April as opposed to peaking early, so I think were just kind of starting to hit stride there.”
Hoffman added that as long as his team keeps their offensive fundamentals, sticks to the team’s defensive concepts and trusts each other to be there, they’ll be just fine.
However, the Wings must come out prepared to take on players like Calgary forwards Dane Dobbie and Curtis Dickson, who have proven themselves to huge assets to the Roughnecks.
But still, Harrison takes comfort in that the energy of his team has continued to improve with his defensemen gaining more confidence in shooting the ball, providing significantly more scoring opportunities for Philly than they had earlier in the year.
“(Calgary) can transition with the best of them,” Harrison said. “They’ve got some nice young guys who can run the ball real well and their offense is putting up near 13 goals, so there’s a lot for us to chew on and sort out and hopefully we can be up for the challenge.”
The Roughnecks beat the Minnesota Swarm last weekend, allowing them to be one win away from clinching a playoff spot. Calgary will now be on the road for two games this weekend that will see them travel to Philadelphia on Friday and then Buffalo Saturday.
“This is the toughest trip of the season for us,” said Roughnecks head coach Curt Malawsky.
Roughnecks defenseman John Harnett added, “The vibe is pretty positive heading into the weekend, I think we’re excited. We’re going to use this weekend to grow as a team before playoffs.”
The Riggers start their weekend road trip in Philadelphia on Friday. The two teams didn’t see a lot of each other during the season; the last game dating all the back to January of the last year. However, Malawsky has been watching game tape to prepare his team.
“Philly’s very big, very athletic and they do a good job at keeping you to the outside,” he said. “If our guys are going to try and beat guys one on one, it’s going to be a long night for us. It’s important we stick to the systematic principles we’ve been applying the last little while and we should be able to give them a good game.”
The Necks have had to face some injuries this year but Malawsky insists two of his players should be ready to go on Friday.
“Mike Carnegie looks real good and so does Travis Cornwall,” he said. “We have a great medical staff so those guys will be back ready to go. It’s exciting for us to pretty much have a full complement of guys and be able to battle against a good team in Philly.”
Geoff Snider will return to Philadelphia for just the second time since coming over to Calgary. Snider is now the NLL all-time leader in faceoff wins. Wings head coach Blane Harrison knows what his team is up against.
“Calgary’s got a very good faceoff guy, and they’re up there in the league in special teams,” he said. “They can transition with the best of them so hopefully we can be up for the challenge.”
With the playoff picture starting to develop, the Wings are deadlocked with the Toronto Rock for third spot in the East with only four games remaining.
“We’re playing better ball late in the season,” said Wings defenseman Eric Hoffman. “It’s a matter of sticking to the team concept, not letting yourself get stuck out on an island, and trusting you have four buddies next to you.“
The Roughnecks know they will be playing a desperate Philadelphia team on Friday.
“We’re facing a team that needs this win,” said Harnett. “We’re going to expect their best and it’s going to be a track meet, we’re going to have to be working hard and sticking to our game plan because they’re a good club.”
With this game being the first of two, the Riggers will spend the night in Philly before travelling to Buffalo for the Saturday night matchup.
“It’s going to be a real challenge for our guys,” Malawsky said. “It’s a different style of lacrosse in the East opposed to the West Division, so we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us.”