The Calgary Roughnecks host the Colorado Mammoth in the first round of the NLL playoffs this Saturday, May 3, at the Scotiabank Saddledome. This will be the fourth meeting of the year between these two teams, with Colorado winning two of the first three.
Colorado has some obstacles to hurdle, however. They will be without Drew Westervelt (injured) and Casey Powell (hold out), putting a couple holes in their offense. Although Powell only played in five games this year, he put up 25 points in that span, giving the offense a big boost when he was there. Westervelt was third on the team in scoring, with 63 points, so losing him will hurt.
The other issue the Mammoth are facing is the loss of Dillon Ward’s goalie equipment, which was apparently stolen this week. Although the Vancouver Stealth have graciously stepped up to volunteer their gear to allow Ward to play, going into a playoff game without his own stuff might prove to be a stumbling block.
Colorado will be relying heavily on John Grant Jr. and Adam Jones. Grant Jr. finished the year with 40 goals and 91 points—both fourth best in the NLL—while Jones finished with 39 goals and 65 points in spite of missing five games due to injury.
Assuming Ward can persevere in spite of the equipment loss, he had an excellent rookie campaign, finishing the year with a respectable 11.58 goals against average.
The Roughnecks were led by Shawn Evans, who surpassed the 100-point mark for the second year in a row (105), and Dane Dobbie, who set a new team record for goals in a season (51) while also leading the league in that category.
At the other end, Mike Poulin finished the season strong, ending with an 11.45 goals against average. He only gave up more than 11 goals once in his final nine games, that being a 14-goal night by the Edmonton Rush on April 12.
The big matchup to watch, as is always the case when these two meet, will be the Snider-versus-Snider battle in the faceoff circle. Geoff (317 FOW) and Bob (279 FOW) were once again the top two draw men in the NLL and should once again have an epic struggle in the faceoff circle. While the two were almost dead even in their first matchup this year, Geoff dominated the last two meetings, winning 66 percent of the draws in those last two games.
Execution on both ends of the floor is going to be a big factor in this game. Calgary’s offense, which scored a league-leading 237 goals, can run up the score in a hurry, so Colorado’s defense will have to be careful to keep Dobbie, Evans, Curtis Dickson and Jeff Shattler under wraps and not concede any uncontested shots. On the other end, Grant Jr. and Jones can also score goals in bunches and could exploit any disciplinary breakdowns in Calgary’s defense.
Both of Colorado’s wins over Calgary this year came in overtime. If they can stay within striking range, they have proven they have the talent to earn the clutch goals. However, if the Roughnecks offense gets on a roll, they can turn this game into a laugher very quickly.
The West Division Semi-Final gets underway at 7:00 pm MT and can be viewed live on The Lacrosse Network’s You Tube channel.