Yep, even though the Flames aren’t in the NHL’s postseason dance, the city of Calgary gets some postseason action at the ‘Dome in different forms. On the hockey front, they’ve got the WHL’s Eastern Conference Champion Calgary Hitmen, who opened their series with Tri City on Friday night with an absolute thumping (7-0 Hitmen). Or there’s the Calgary Roughnecks of the National Lacrosse League, who have a Saturday afternoon playoff date with the Edmonton Rush.
On the National Lacrosse League front, the Calgary Roughnecks open their postseason Saturday afternoon at 1 pm. The defending league champs will take on the Edmonton Rush in a significant game for a number of reasons.
It’s a Roughnecks team red hot entering the postseason. After finding themselves well below expectations just over a month ago, sitting 6-6, the Necks have rattled off four straight wins and have earned a home playoff date. The Necks are especially confident winning their last two games in a buzzer-beater fashion. At Rexall in Edmonton, Josh Sanderson scored in overtime to stake the Riggers to a 15-14 win; the following weekend, Calgary clinched their home playoff date with a last minute win in Denver, as Scott Ranger scored with just 16 seconds remaining. The team feels these type of character wins are the type that put you in good stead heading into the playoffs.
It’s the first time the Roughnecks and Rush will meet in the NLL postseason. It’s quite the accomplishment for Edmonton, who will play their first ever postseason game after revamping their team during the offseason. Head Coach Derek Keenan came from Portland and put his stamp on the squad almost immediately. With a 10-6 record of their own, they’ll be a hell of a challenge for Calgary. In talking with ‘Necks captain Tracey Kelusky this week, it’s important to point one thing out: this isn’t the NHL or WHL playoffs. You don’t have time to get better as the series goes along. In a one game, winner-take-all format, you’ve got to bring your very best effort three straight times. Calgary seems ready to do that.
Players to watch? For Calgary, it’s Josh Sanderson. The NLL leading scorer just posted a career high in points, which is crazy after he set a league record for assists last season. His ball distribution and floor vision is unmatched in this league. In Edmonton, Brodie Merrill is the type of player who can impact a game singlehandedly. The transition specialist is great offensively, can run for hours, and is consistently a vacuum when it comes to loose balls. He has turned into probably the best all-round lacrosse player on the planet.