Vancouver Stealth (3-8) host the Calgary Roughnecks (6-5) at Langley Events Centre on Friday at 11pm ET. (Photo: Brad Watson)
The Vancouver Stealth (3-8) host the Calgary Roughnecks (6-5) at Langley Events Centre for round three of their season series on Friday at 11 p.m. ET. Watch the game live on YouTube via The Lacrosse Network.
With playoffs on the mind for both teams, this game will prove crucial in determining the West Division standings. After winning five out of six earlier this season, the Roughnecks have now lost two in a row and are looking to get back into the win column.
“If we put out an effort like last weekend, we’ll be on the short end of the stick,” said Roughnecks head coach Curt Malawsky. “But I expect our guys to bounce back from last weekend’s effort, they know the magnitude of this game and it’s another opportunity for us to battle against a divisional opponent.”
The season series has seen Calgary win both previous matchups but Malawsky thinks the Vancouver team is better than their record indicates.
“Last time we had Vancouver come in; they had a long travel day, so I don’t know if we’ve seen their best," Malawsky said. "We always have a tough time with them, they play us very tough. They're a very physical defense, very explosive offense and they have a top-notch goaltender.”
On Tuesday, the trade deadline concluded and the Riggers opted to stick with the guys they have.
“We got all the confidence in the world in our guys," Malawsky said. "We had some injuries earlier this season and now we're starting to get our veteran guys back. We don’t wanna mess with the chemistry we have, so we looked at what we had and there wasn’t too many areas we wanted to improve on. We're happy with our guys moving forward.”
Despite the two teams' records, the Roughnecks have only scored 20 more goals than the Stealth and have let up two more. Necks’ leading scorer, Shawn Evans, didn’t like last weekend’s result and is looking forward to Saturday.
"Last week was a tough loss, but we gotta move forward and no game in this league is an easy one,” he said. “We’re just crazy to get back on the floor as a team after last weekend’s disappointing loss and we’re ready to get going, and get back on track.”
Meanwhile, the Stealth have had a disappointing season so far, losing seven of their last eight games.
“We need some wins in our organization and they’ve been tough to come by so far,” said Stealth head coach Chris Hall. “The week off has probably done us a bit of good in terms of refocusing and trying to figure out how were going to get some wins.”
The Stealth haven’t won many games this season because there has been lack of offensive production. Scoring goals hasn’t come easy for Vancouver, only netting 10 or more goals in five games this season.
“The offense needs to step it up a bit,” said Stealth forward Lewis Ratcliff. “It's on us and hopefully come Saturday we have a good one.”
With the Edmonton Rush being the only team to clinch a playoff spot so far, it's crunch time for the Roughnecks. With only seven games to go, coach Malawsky knows what is at stake this weekend.
“Divisional games are really big and pushing down the stretch, everyone’s fighting for a playoff spot," he said. "We’re all trying to battle our way in, so it’s going to be a playoff atmosphere and I know our guys are looking forward to it.”
The Roughnecks currently lead the season series 2-0 after winning both of their previous two meetings against the Stealth in Calgary. With the season series now shifting to Vancouver, the Stealth will try and hold on to home turf advantage, as the final two matchups of the regular season will take place on the Stealth’s home turf at the LEC.
The 2014 NLL season is more than half over and even with a 3-8 record the Stealth are still in the hunt for a playoff spot. Each matchup down the stretch is going to be important, especially against divisional opponents they’re attempting to catch.
“Realistically, we’re only two games out,” Ratcliff said. “We can get right back in if we start playing the way we know we can.”
The Stealth came up short against the league’s best in their last regular season game, falling 10-9 to the Edmonton Rush, who still have yet to lose a game this season. It was a solid effort, and definitely a step in the right direction, but the offense again fell a little short.
“I thought the guys played well two weekends ago,” said Ratcliff. “Defense looked great, (goaltender) Tyler Richards has been great all year. I think we just need to put a couple more balls in the net and it’s on us to pick our game up.”
After having last weekend off the Stealth will be well-rested heading into the weekend, as they prepare for three-straight games at the LEC.
“The week off has probably done us some good in terms of focusing and trying to figure out how we’re going to produce some more offense,” Hall said. “I think the guys will be pretty anxious to get back on the floor this weekend.”
The Stealth are 2-2 at home this season and will try to take advantage of a Calgary team that has struggled on the road this season, going 1-4.