Last season left a bad taste in his mouth whichDane Dobbie did not want to experience again.
“They put us out last year and a lot of guys remembered that,” Dobbie said outside the victorious Calgary Roughnecks locker room on Saturday night.
His team had just secured their NLL post-season berth thanks to a 13-9 win over the Vancouver Stealth at the Langley Events Centre.
Vancouver fell to 2-13 and has no shot to catch the 6-8 Roughnecks for the third and final playoff spot in the West Division.
The Stealth had eliminated Calgary last season.
“That was the first time I was in the league we missed it and the first time in I don’t know how long Calgary (missed),” Dobbie said.
Prior to last season, Calgary had only missed the playoffs in their first year, 2002.“It’s not fun watching (the playoffs). The games g o so quick, you can’t take it for granted. You never know when you will be finished.”
All that was finished on Saturday night was something likely to be inevitable: the Stealth missing the post-season for the fourth time in five seasons. Vancouver entered the contest needing to win out their final four games while hoping Calgary went 0-5.
The game was tight in the first quarter, with just three total goals and Vancouver leading 2-1.
The second quarter saw the offences open up with each team scoring five goals and the Stealth up 7-6 at the half.
But after the teams traded goals to open the second half, Calgary scored four of the period’s five goals and then the only two of the fourth.
Dobbie said the team stuck to the game plan. “We just stuck to the process and the outcome took care of itself.”
Despite his team trailing at the half, Roughnecks coach Curt Malawsky thought the score was n ot indicative of the play with Stealth goaltender Eric Penney playing particularly well.The coach also knew his team was in for a fight against a team which had no margin for error. “We knew in the back of our mind these guys knocked us out last year and we knew they were going to be come out and play for their playoff lives,” he said. “We knew they had a big hill to climb so we wanted to make it hard on them. I don’t think they ever quit but we just wanted to put a little doubt in their mind.”
On the Stealth side of things, coach Jamie Batley said you can’t win in this league scoring less than a dozen goals per game. Vancouver is averaging a league low 10.6 and has scored 12 or less in 13 of 15 games, “Really you have to be above 12 on a consistent basis to win in this league,” he said.A big factor in that has been the drop-off in C orey Small and Rhys Duch’s production, who have long been among the NLL’s top snipers.
On the heels of 46 and 38 goal seasons respectively, the duo are on pace for 28 and 15 goals in 2018.Duch — the franchise’s all-time leading scorer — has never had less th an 33 goals in his 10-year career while Small has averaged 35 goals a season for the last four years. Small’s shooting percentage is .122 for the season, compared to .189 last year while Duch is hitting on just .077 of his shots versus .175 in 2017.
Calgary’s Curtis Dickson led all scorers with three goals and eight points while Dobbie had three goals and five points.
Wes Berg (two goals, one assist), Holden Cattoni (one goal, two assists) and Tyler Digby (one goal, two assists) each had three-point games. Mitch Wilde, Zach Currier and Riley Loewen rounded out the scoring for the visitors with a goal apiece.
For the Stealth, Pat Saunders and Small had two goals and two assists apiece and Logan Schuss also found the back of the net twice.
Matt Beers, Brandon Clelland and Duch finished with one goal and one assist apiece.
Penney finished with 56 saves as Vancouver was outshot 68-52. Christian Del Bianco made 43 saves.
The Stealth are off next weekend before they host the Saskatchewan Rush on April 13.
“We use it to evaluate talent for next year. We have guys on the practice roster that have to play. We have to get them in the game somehow,” Batley said.“Every game is big. There are a lot of people who are working for job’s next year. We just have to keep working hard and play every game like it is a championship game,” Penney added.