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X-Factor: Rock Clinch With 12-10 Win Over Roughnecks

The Calgary Roughnecks (3-9) had its hopes of a winning streak torn away with a 12-10 home loss to the first-place Toronto Rock (11-3) in front of 12,330 fans at Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday night. With the win, Toronto becomes the first team to clinch an NLL playoff spot.

“That was the first goal on our list. I guess we can put a check beside that and move onto the next one,” said Rock goaltender Nick Rose.

“It’s a big win to get into the playoffs,” said Rock head coach John Lovell. “Our focus is still to try to grab first in our division. We’ve got a huge game with Rochester next weekend, and that will probably for all intensive purposes decide it.”

After losing to the Edmonton Rush last weekend, Toronto’s coaching staff seemed happy with the improvements made. Equal effort from many of the Rock players tonight was the deciding factor, as goals came off the sticks of eight team members tonight.

“We had looks from the back end but didn’t score and ran into some untimely penalties that cost us (last weekend). Tonight, we still got some penalties that cost us but we got some goals from our back end and we had some great looks here,” Lovell said. “We had a lot of shots, and I thought their goalie stood on his head too.”

The Rock had a shaky start tonight falling behind two goals in the first quarter, and then barely clinching a lead against the ‘Necks until the last few minutes of the fourth. However, staying calm was the team’s key to success.

“I think we showed pretty good composure,” Lovell added. “In the first quarter, when we got down, and the fans got in it, we managed to stay in the game and close the gap. I thought we had some great looks throughout this game.”

Rose, who stopped 41 shots on goal tonight agreed with his coach, the fans were loud and the game was tight, but staying focused helped the Rock come out on top.

“It’s a tough place to play,” Rose admitted. “It was a great atmosphere tonight, the fans were real loud, and it made it difficult for us to do our job. But I think we stuck with our game plan and it ended up working out for us.”

After failing to earn two consecutive wins all season, the Roughnecks are frustrated. Coaching staff are taking the emotion as a positive.

“They gotta believe in themselves,” said Roughnecks head coach Curt Malawsky. “They’re all in there frustrated and pissed off, and you know what that tells me that means they care…They hate where we’re at, and they want to get ourselves into the playoffs, and that’s a bunch of competitors. All that frustration is because they want to win the game, because we need to win lacrosse games. I take that as a positive thing.”

After losing another tight game to Toronto this season, it seems the Riggers are having trouble holding a lead against the Rock near the end of the game.

“We’ve got to stay with the 60-minute grind,” Malawsky stated. “We battled right to the very end and it just didn’t go our way. There’s a lot of mistakes that happened both ways on the floor but our guys’ compete level was great again. I’m just very frustrated because at the key point of the game we just couldn’t quite put one in there.”

“It is what it at the end of the game. We’ve just got to be able to bring it home – we’re up a goal. They’re a good team. They’re at the top of the league in the East and top of the league in the NLL for a reason. We’ve got to keep our composure. We kind of lost our composure at points, myself included,” Malawsky said.

Roughnecks captain Andrew McBride who is now in his 13th year with the franchise, believes that losing a lead so late in the game is a trend that needs to change fast for the team.

“It’s a hard-fought game all game,” McBride said. “I think the bottom line is when we’re up one goal in the last five minutes of the game we gotta close the game…Every time we seem to be up with four minutes left, we let them come back they score and then we lose. Quite frankly, it’s unacceptable from a defensive perspective and team perspective.”

“We gotta get better and we gotta get better real quick at closing games. I thought we battled hard all game, it was a competitive game, Frankie (Scigliano) stood in, everyone played well. But if you don’t finish, who cares how you played?” he added.

The ‘Necks will now travel to Colorado to take on the Mammoth on Friday, and then host Colorado again on Saturday night.

“We have to get the job done on Friday night in Colorado…These guys care, and they believe in each other, and we’re gonna go on the road and give them one hell of a game.”

Three Stars of the Game as selected by the media:

1) Brett Hickey
2) Dane Dobbie
3) Karsen Leung

By Laura Bates (@RoughnecksBeat) for NLL.com. Photo by Brad Watson.