The Calgary Roughnecks host the Washington Stealth Saturday night in their third and final meeting of the 2013 regular season.
Both teams have won one game in this series so far, with the Roughnecks taking their contest last weekend following a late-game surge.
Calgary is currently tied with the Edmonton Rush for first place in the NLL West Division with an 8-5 record while the Stealth are in second at 7-6.
With things so tight at the top of the division, this game has significant playoff implications.
The Stealth have lost two in a row now and need to get back on track in their final three games. Also, if they beat Calgary, they lock up a spot in the postseason.
Rhys Duch continues to lead the way for Washington, pacing the offense in goals (34), assists (40) and points (74). Lews Ratcliff (52 points) and Athan Iannucci (45 points) are the key members of the supporting cast and all three need to be on their games to keep pace with the Roughnecks.
Tyler Richards had another good night in net for the Stealth last week, making 31 saves against just eight goals allowed, but he took a five-minute major for high sticking in the fourth quarter, allowing Calgary to reel off three power play goals and take a lead they would not relinquish.
Had T-Rich stayed in the game and out of the penalty box, the results may have been very different. He’ll be expected to have a more disciplined game in Calgary.
Mike Poulin, meanwhile, had his second strong outing in a row for the Roughnecks, turning aside 39 shots in the win. He is getting hot at the right time and could be the difference maker this team needs for a deep run in the playoffs if he’s on his game.
Shawn Evans is continuing to pour it on in his career-best season. His 89 points are already 10 better than he has ever done before, with three more games to pad his numbers and he is still within striking distance of a league scoring title.
Dane Dobbie and Curtis Dickson have both scored 35 goals and are tied for second in the NLL in that category.
Last weekend, for the first time ever, Bob Snider won more faceoffs than Geoff Snider when they went head-to-head, 14-12. Although Geoff was happy to take the win in the game over out-doing his brother on the faceoff circle, look for Geoff to re-establish himself as the No. 1 drawman in the NLL.
The fourth quarter may be the deciding period once again in this game.
The Stealth have been outscored 51-39 in fourth quarters this year and need to do a better job in the homestretch.
By contrast, the fourth has been Calgary’s best quarter, outscoring opponents 56-39. If they stay within striking distance in the first three frames, they always have a shot at sealing the deal late.