The Calgary Roughnecks (6-11) kept its playoff hopes alive with a 10-6 win over the Minnesota Swarm (5-11) in front of a crowd of 8,131 at Xcel Energy Center on Saturday night. The Roughnecks have won four of the team’s last six games to spark the late playoff run as they attempt to beat out the Vancouver Stealth for the third and final playoff spot in the West Division.
The Roughnecks opened the game with a goal from Dane Dobbie (1+2) in the first 40 seconds and continued to score four unanswered goals. The streak ended when Minnesota’s Shayne Jackson (1+3) responded just before the end of the first quarter.
“I thought offensively we played a great game, getting the lead early,” said Roughnecks forward Shawn Evans. “Defensively, we held them to six goals and held them to one goal in the first half. Overall it was a good game.”
Shawn Evans (4+2) continued to prove his status as the NLL single-season point leader and record holder by racking up another six points for Calgary. Curtis Dickson (1+4) and Daryl Veltman (1+3) were among the leading contributors in the Roughnecks offense, who sparked the lead in the first minute and defended it until the final buzzer. Calgary’s assertive defense held the Swarm to just one goal in the first half.
“We wanted to move the ball and spread them out a little bit,” said Roughnecks head coach Curt Malawsky. “They made an adjustment on their defense, they packed in a little bit more, so once we adjusted to that we had some decent looks. I thought we were good on the back end, I thought we played solid. I thought overall it was a good game for us.”
After their lone goal from the first half, the Swarm came back to outscore Calgary in the second half 5-3. Wearing the A and leading the offense for Minnesota were forward Johnny Powless (2+0), forward Shayne Jackson (1+3), and transition Joel White (1+1). Rookie Sam Bradman (1+0) scored his first career NLL goal to come within two of the Roughnecks in the fourth quarter, but it wasn’t enough for Minnesota.
“We made a couple of adjustments at half time with our offense and where we were going on the floor and keeping our feet moving,” said Swarm assistant coach Aime Caines. “We got a couple of early goals in the second half and we made it 8-6. Then they got one on the power play and we couldn’t recover from that.”
The Swarm were playing without three of their top performers: forward Callum Crawford, transition Jordan MacIntosh, and defense Kiel Matisz. All three are out with injuries and the shook up roster transformed to include a group of younger players.
“When you lose guys that are top scorers in this league for a long time, it hurts,” Caines said. “I don’t think we had an offensive player over the age of 26 so we’re really young, with a lot of energy, but missing that veteran presence with the injuries we have.”
“They’ve got a good young team, they moved their feet really well,” Malawsky said. “I know they had three of their big stars that are out and they put some young guys in the lineup and the young guys played really well. They moved the ball good on offense and I thought they played a great game.”
Goalie Zach Higgins saved 28 shots for the Swarm and Frankie Scigliano saved 43 of 49 shots for the Roughnecks.
As the Roughnecks move into a bye week, their attention is aimed at their next contest against Vancouver in two weeks. It’s the final win they will need to punch their playoff ticket and they intend on showing up ready to advance.
“We’ve got a week off here and we’re going to prepare for Vancouver. Win- you’re in,” Malawsky said. “From an 0 and 6 start, you still have an opportunity to control your own destiny. Our guys are really hungry to get into the last game May 2nd, so we’re excited and we’re going to be ready.”
“We have to be ready to go in two weeks and get rest this week and get everyone healthy,” Evans said. “And make sure we’re ready to go against Vancouver.”
Three Stars of the Game as selected by the media:
1) Shawn Evans
2) Frankie Scigliano
3) Johnny Powless
The Calgary Roughnecks will have a bye week before they visit the Vancouver Stealth on Saturday, May 2 at 10 p.m. ET. Minnesota will host the Edmonton Rush next Saturday at Xcel Energy Center at 8 p.m. ET.
Story by Maria Jollie (@SwarmBeat) for NLL.com. Photo by Scott Pierson.