The last time the Calgary Roughnecks were at the Langley Events Centre, they had just fallen to 0-6 on the season following a loss to the Vancouver Stealth. Yet here they were on the final day of the National Lacrosse League season, back at the LEC against the Stealth, with the winner claiming the third and final West Division playoff spot.
And after falling behind 4-0 and trailing 7-5 at the half, the Roughnecks (7-11) scored seven goals in just over 11 minutes to lead 12-9 after three quarters. And even after the Stealth (5-13) tied the score at a dozen apiece with three goals from Rhys Duch in three minutes, Calgary showed their playoff mettle and had two of the final three goals to win, 14-13.
“We knew there was going to be a lot of rust coming off the bye week,” said Roughnecks head coach Curt Malawsky. “We would have liked to have been up at the half but we were coaching to be even or down a little bit.”
The game plan was to make their move in the third quarter.
“We knew trailing after the third quarter, they hadn’t won a game all season long,” Malawsky said. “They were 0-11 going in; we mentioned that stat.”
Jeff Shattler led the comeback for the Roughnecks with four goals and eight points.
“We worked hard for every chance and we didn’t get down on each other when we were down 4-0,” he said. “In the past, we would turn on each other but this game, we were positive all the way through.”
For the Stealth, all they can do is learn from this devastating experience.
“Every time you lose a game like that, it is a learning experience,” said Stealth transition player Tyler Garrison.
He admitted the team’s third quarter play has been costly all season long.
“That third quarter had been our Achilles heel it seems all year,” he said. “We will have to clean that up for next year.”
Stealth head coach Dan Perreault said while the outcome was disappointing, he could not fault his team’s effort.
“Our guys battled hard, unfortunately we didn’t get the outcome,” he said. “(But) you certainly can’t fault the effort. A couple of shots hit sticks, then rolled in being (Frankie) Scigliano and sat on the line and didn’t go over. It is a game of inches.”
All season long, Perreault has said the team had yet to play a full 60 minutes, and that lack of a full-game effort cost them again.
“We turned the ball over (in the third quarter) a few times,” he said. “We made mistakes and couldn’t get our offense on the floor.”
Vancouver was outscored 7-2 in that 15-minute stretch, compared to being up 11-7 the other 45 minutes.
The Stealth were led by Duch, who had six goals and eight points while Corey Small (2+5), Tyler Digby (3+1) and Logan Schuss (1+5) also had multi-point games. Vancouver’s transition game was also working great and was led by Ilija Gajic (1+4).
In addition to Shattler’s eight points, Curtis Dickson (1+5) and Shawn Evans (3+4) had big games. And with his four assists, Evans — who won the NLL scoring title with 130 points — tied Toronto’s Josh Sanderson for the single-season assists record. Both players finished with 83 helpers.
Calgary now travels to face the Colorado Mammoth in the single-elimination opening round of the NLL playoffs next Saturday, May 9 at 9 p.m. ET for the right to face the Edmonton Rush in the West Division Finals.
Three Stars of the Game as selected by the media:
1) Jeff Shattler
2) Rhys Duch
3) Shawn Evans
By Gary Ahuja (@VanStealthBeat) for NLL.com. Photo by Garrett James.