The odds were stacked against the Calgary Roughnecks to host a home playoff game, but that’s exactly what’s happened.
The Roughnecks will welcome the Colorado Mammoth into the Scotiabank Saddledome tonight, Friday, May 10, for the West Division final.
This will be the Roughnecks’ first home playoff game since 2016 and defense-man Dan MacRae said they’re excited to see the atmosphere.
“We’re pretty pumped up. I still vividly remember back in 2015 playing the Edmonton Rush and during TV timeouts guys just looking around and being like holy smokes this place is rocking,” said MacRae. “We know the type of people that come to our games. It’s a blue-collar crowd; they work hard for their money and they spend it to come to our games, and when they get here they’re a very passionate group. We’re excited to have the opportunity to put on a good show for them and we’re looking forward to seeing a big turnout.”
The Roughnecks reached this point by taking care of business on Monday night in San Diego against a tough Seals squad, while the Mammoth dished out the upset of the top seeded Saskatchewan Rush.
Although their play on the turf is what ultimately put them ahead on the scoreboard, MacRae said one of the most encouraging factors from last game was the demeanor on the bench.
“We got down by three at one point and it’s just what guys were saying to each other on the bench,” said MacRae. “We didn’t feel nervous or like we were out of it at any point in time during the game. Guys were confident when we were at our biggest margin.”
The Roughnecks will take on a Mammoth team that, despite only winning six games during the regular season, defeated them twice in their three-game series. And while tonight’s game may appear to be the perfect revenge opportunity, Roughnecks forward Dane Dobbie said that’s not on their mind.
“This is a new season, so it all comes down to us being better than them” said Dobbie. “It’s two very talented teams and the outcome’s going to come with hard work, who stays out of the box, and who makes the least amount of mistakes.”
The Mammoth boast one of the best defenses in the NLL, finishing the regular season ranked second in both goals-against and shots-against with 10.72 and 48.33 respectively.
The Roughnecks offense, however, has found its groove as of late and finished the regular season with three players (Dobbie, Dickson, and Duch) in the top 25 in NLL scoring. The offense received an additional boost with the debut of off-season acquisition Jesse King late in the season.
Dobbie said there was a reason King was brought in before the season, and it’s now showing.
“Jesse’s fantastic. Unfortunately, he sat out most of the year and we got him back with two games left in the season, and he’s only gotten better,” said Dobbie. “He’s getting better every game and we expect him to be better tonight too.”
Before the season began, there were high hopes for this Roughnecks team with the off-season moves, the development of goaltender Christian Del Bianco, and the growing chemistry of all returning players. Now that the Roughnecks are in the spot they envisioned they would be in from the start, head coach Curt Malawsky said there’s plenty of excitement in the locker room.
“It’s win or go home, and we have a lot of guys in our room that relish that. We have a lot of character in that room,” said Malawsky. “This is what you play for. This is the time of year, so there’s a lot of excitement around our group.”
Coverage of tonight’s game will begin at 8:30pm ET with NLL Playoffs Pregame LIVE on the NLL’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. Game action will be streamed live on B/R Live and Fanseat.