Saturday afternoon the Calgary Roughnecks will take on the Washington Stealth in the West Division Final.
The Stealth won the season series 2-1 with each team earning a two-goal win and Washington taking the rubber match by just a single goal. Further, the Stealth are 4-1 while visiting the Scotiabank Saddledome since moving to Everett from San Jose.
The last time these two teams met in the postseason, Washington came to Calgary and beat them 10-8 in the Division final.
That all puts history in Washington’s favor.
But anything can happen in a one-game elimination game and momentum could play a factor in this contest.
The Stealth have won three of their last six, with one win and one loss among them being against the Roughnecks. They have also been on the receiving end of a few lopsided defeats in that stretch; they lost by seven to the Minnesota Swarm in a game where they scored a season-low five goals and they lost by five to the Buffalo Bandits in their second last game of the year.
Calgary have won five of their last seven with the two defeats both being by a single goal each.
So momentum might be in the Roughnecks’ favor.
Rhys Duch has been the Stealth’s offensive leader in the regular season and the postseason. He led collected a league-high 45 goals during the season and was third in the league in points with 96. Last week he paced the offense once again, scoring four times and adding two assists.
Kyle Sorensen and Mike Grimes were Washington’s defensive leaders. Sorensen collected 71 loose balls to go with a team-high 23 forced turnovers during the regular season while Grimes grabbed 95 loosies and forced 14 turnovers.
Goaltender Tyler Richards had a strong season, posting a 10.92 goals against average during the year and his 11.49 GAA last weekend was also very good.
On Calgary’s side, Shawn Evans led the NLL in points with the fifth-highest total ever at 112. That and his 80 assists were both records for Calgary. Curtis Dickson was third in the league in goals with 42 while Dane Dobbie scored 40 times in just 13 games.
Dobbie missed the final game of the season with a knee injury but made it back for last week’s playoff game against Colorado. Playing with a knee brace and a limp, he still managed four assists.
Jeff Shattler led the way for the Roughnecks last weekend with seven points while he, Evans and Scott Ranger all contributed hat tricks to the winning cause.
After winning the Goaltender of the Year award in 2012, Mike Poulin had some struggles this year, posting a 12.70 GAA, but his numbers were hampered by some team discipline issues that led to a league-high 107 short-handed situations. Last week he was back to world-beating form, stopping 32 shots while giving up just eight goals.
And no Calgary-versus-Washington game can truly be discussed without mentioning the Snider brothers. For three straight years now, Geoff of the Roughnecks and Bob of the Stealth have finished 1-2 in the faceoffs-won category, with Bob setting a single season record in 2012 (319).
In games where the brothers face each other, Bob has only bested his big brother in a single game. That came on March 30 this year when Bob won 14 of 27 faceoffs against Geoff. The Roughnecks wound up winning that game however.
The Snider brother battle is always an entertaining subplot within these contests and one worth keeping an eye on.
Whatever the outcome, these two teams look to be very evenly matched which should mean an exciting, down-to-the-wire matchup.
The fun starts at 4:30 MT in Calgary.