The Vancouver Stealth (4-14) finished up their 2014 NLL season with a 14-8 loss to the Calgary Roughnecks (12-6) on Fan Appreciation Night at Langley Events Centre on Saturday night, capping off the Stealth's first year back in British Columbia.
Even though the Stealth were already eliminated from the playoffs, it didn’t take much for the players to get motivated for tonight’s game.
“Those are our two biggest rivals in this league and the last three or four years we’ve faced them in the playoffs. So to tell you the truth it’s really not that hard to get up and play them, we wanted to get this one,” said Stealth veteran Mike Grimes. “Calgary and Edmonton are both strong and they’re going to make a push for the Champion's Cup this year.”
With tonight’s loss to the Roughnecks the Stealth finish the season 0-7 against their Alberta rivals.
Tonight, the Roughnecks jumped out to the early advantage going up 6-1 just part way through the second quarter. The Stealth would finish the half strong but still trailed 8-4 at the break.
The Roughnecks special teams were the difference maker in the first half scoring two shorthanded goals and three power play goals. The Roughnecks finished the game 4 for 8 on the power play, as they really took advantage of some undisciplined play by the Stealth.
The second half was a similar result that the Stealth have been far to used to seeing, as they struggled to find their offense again tonight. For the Roughnecks Curtis Dickson, Shawn Evans and Dane Dobbie, each registered a hat trick as their offense continues to roll heading into the playoffs. Dobbie also broke Lewis Ratcliff’s single season goals record of 50, as he finished the season with one better at 51.
The Roughnecks will now host the Colorado Mammoth in the first round of the playoffs next weekend with the winner moving on to play the Edmonton Rush in the Division final. As for the Stealth, some off season changes are likely to be made, but as Mike Grimes describes the team needs to be more cohesive to be successful.
“We need to find a way to be a better as a team. We have a ton of great individual players but for some reason it didn’t come together this year. I think if we find a way to come together better as a team we’ll have more success next year.”
It’s no secret that the NLL is a very tight league and it would come as no surprise to see the Stealth have a great season next year or even be in the Champion's Cup final which they’ve done before.
“You look at the last few years, three of the last four years we’ve been to the championship game and the other years we didn’t even make the playoffs just like this year,” said Grimes. “The parity is so close, you lose one or two, one goal games at the beginning of the year and they can come back to haunt you. That’s what did us in this year.”
Three Stars of the Game as selected by the media:
1) Dane Dobbie
2) Shawn Evans
3) Tyler Digby