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Roughnecks Enter Crucial Stretch Versus Mammoth

It’s getting down to crunch time for the Calgary Roughnecks.


The Roughnecks (6-6) will look for their second straight win Saturday night when they host the Colorado Mammoth (3-8) in a battle of division foes at the Scotiabank Saddledome.


With just six games remaining in the regular season, it’s getting down to do-or-die time for the Roughnecks.


“There’s definitely a sense of urgency,” said Roughnecks forward Rhys Duch.


“At the beginning of the season you can kind of have the mentality there’s a long way to go, but now we only have six games left, so every game becomes that much more important, especially with as tight as the Western standings are.”


The Roughnecks are coming off a four-game stretch where they played the Saskatchewan Rush twice, the Buffalo Bandits and the Toronto Rock, the three best teams in the NLL.


And although the Mammoth may provide an easier test on paper, Duch said he and the Roughnecks have no trouble getting worked up for this game.


“They beat us last time we played them, so that’s motivation right there,” said Duch.


“They’re a team that’s fighting for a playoff spot and we’re fighting to hold onto a playoff spot. There’s so much parody in the league that you wouldn’t be doing yourself any favors not being able to get excited, regardless of the team you play.”


The Roughnecks offense enters this contest currently ranked ninth with 11 goals-for per game while the Mammoth currently rank tenth in the NLL with 10.36.


Despite the low offensive output from the Mammoth, Duch said he believes they have a better offense than they’ve shown, which is something they need to be cautious of.


“They have a lot more talent on offense than the numbers they’ve been putting up, so I think they’re going to be focusing on that,” said Duch.


“It’s up to us to be prepared for an offense that’s a lot better than they’ve been showing.”


Although the Roughnecks offense has had its struggles, the defense has been playing lights out, currently number one in the NLL with 10.92 goals-against per game.


The backend got even stronger with the return of Curtis Manning last game, who was out with an injury since November.


With how well the defense has been playing this season, Manning said he’s just looking to fit in and contribute the best he can.


“There’s a lot of good, young talent we brought in this year who’ve really stepped up and done an awesome job,” said Manning.


“They’ve been playing a real physical and cohesive game, so for me it’s about trying to fit into that scheme well and try to add something on top of that.”


As most divisional games are, regardless of records, Manning said he’s expecting a tough, gritty test from the Mammoth.


With their current position in the standings, Manning said they expect to see a hard-working Mammoth team that’s looking to make a push for the playoffs.


“They play an unselfish style, so we need to make sure we’re respecting all their players because they all kind of score by consensus,” said Manning.


“You definitely need to play a proper team game against them otherwise they’ll definitely exploit you.”


One area that’s been plaguing the Roughnecks this season is not playing up to their potential for the full 60 minutes.


Manning said it’s something they’ve discussed several times, and is something they’re going to need to do if they want to come out on top Saturday night.


“It’s going to take a full top-to-bottom effort from us because when we’re playing only part way there, it hasn’t really gone well for us,” said Manning.


“We’re going to need all lines bringing everything they have so we can play a complete game