NLL: Calgary qualifies for playoffs despite loss to Seals

Calgary’s Dane Dobbie hits the boards as he’s chased by San Diego’s Drew Belgrave. (Photo credit: Cliff McCaig)

The San Diego Seals finished off a stellar March with their fifth consecutive victory as they steamrolled through the Calgary Roughnecks on Saturday night winning 16-9. The expansion Seals lead the Western Division with a 9-4 record and are headed to the 2019 NLL Playoffs.

Putting up their highest goal total since the season opener, San Diego continued to exhibit a style of offense that is proving to be exceedingly difficult to defend. Three players – Dan Dawson, Garrett Billings and Kyle Buchanan – each had eight points on the evening. Looking down the stat sheet further, Austin Staats had six points, Casey Jackson had five and Turner Evans had three.

“That’s the only way we can win in this league especially with our team, we need one or two from everybody out the O door,” stated Dawson after the game. “If you don’t have everyone playing and everyone contributing you’re not going to win many games in this league.

“A lot guys on this team have something to prove. There is no such thing as buying in right now, it’s been a buy in from day one. We’ve really created a culture here of not using the crutch of an expansion team from day one. We want to compete every night and the only way you do that is having everybody buying in and that’s been the biggest difference.”

Beginning with the opening faceoff, the game followed a consistent narrative. Each time Calgary would score, San Diego would quickly respond with two goals of their own. This pattern continued until the final horn sounded and San Diego was seven goals ahead of the Roughnecks. Impressively, of San Diego’s 16 goals, 14 of them came at even strength – a testament to assistant coach Josh Sanderson’s offensive unit.

Disappointment was the resounding emotion in the Calgary locker room after the game. Coach Malawsky didn’t sugar coat his team’s performance stating they got the result they deserved. Despite the loss that now drops their record to 7-8, the Roughnecks qualified for the NLL post-season via Vancouver’s loss to Saskatchewan.

Somewhat lost in the defeat was Curtis Dickson’s 700th career point. The goal came in classic fashion with Dickson diving through the crease and slamming it over Frank Scigliano’s right shoulder. Dickson would lead all Calgary scorers with three goals and two assists including a goal of the year candidate with a one handed “twist and wrist,” that went top corner.

Eighteen-year veteran Dan Dawson also had a milestone night tallying his 500th career goal. Dawson joins an elite group including John Tavares (815), John Grant (668), Gary Gait (635) and Colin Doyle (537) as the only players with 500 or more goals.

With San Diego clinching a playoff spot in their inaugural year, the future hall of famer was asked if he saw any parallels between the championship Rochester teams he played on and his current team.

“The only parallel you can have is if you win like Rochester did, and that’s yet to be shown,” he said.

San Diego will travel to Georgia this Friday for a game against the Swarm while Calgary faces off against the Wings on Saturday in a 12:00 p.m. ET afternoon game.