Mammoth opportunity for Roughnecks

WES GILBERTSON

, Last Updated: 11:50 AM ET

For the Calgary Roughnecks, watching the out-of-town scoreboard will not be a priority

When a fierce rival and contender for the division crown is in town, there's only one score that matters.

"This is the biggest game of the season and we're focused on that," said Riggers assistant captain Andrew McBride. "Maybe last year, we were a little too concerned with what other teams were doing ... It's always fun to get a little help from other teams, but our job is to win games, and if we win games for the rest of the season, we're going to lock up first place and that coveted home-floor advantage in playoffs."

Perhaps it's a bit premature to be scripting how the West might be won, but the Riggers (7-2) can take a giant step in the right direction with a victory tonight over the Colorado Mammoth (5-4) at the Saddledome.

The Mammoth trail the Roughnecks by a pair of games but can close the gap to one if they leave the Stampede City with two points. The Riggers, meanwhile, have an opportunity to put some distance between themselves and a squad that has not missed the playoffs in their six-year history and won it all three seasons ago.

They'd rather not need it, but the Roughnecks can also claim the tiebreaker by beating their guests by at least two goals.

The Portland LumberJax (5-3) occupy the No.-2 spot in the West Division standings and visit the East Division-leading Buffalo Bandits tonight.

"I'd be lying to you if I said I wasn't looking at (the standings)," said Roughnecks forward Curt Malawsky. "We know where we sit, but just looking at the standings and hoping we can get to 8-2 is not going to get us there ...

"What we're trying to do now is just win every game."

That's exactly what the Roughnecks did in their first five outings, opening the season with a franchise-record winning streak that ended on Valentine's Day in Denver, when the Mammoth scored five times in the fourth quarter en route to a 13-12 victory.

"We've gotta make a point that's not going to happen again," said Roughnecks transition man Jeff Shattler.

"We're going to go for the jugular."

The Roughnecks are coming off an offensive explosion last Saturday at Rexall Place, where they thumped the Edmonton Rush 22-10. Sophomore lefty Dane Dobbie tied a club record with an 11-point outing (7G, 4A), while Scott Ranger (4G, 6A) and Josh Sanderson (3G, 6A) also had season-highs.

The Mammoth, meanwhile, topped the San Jose Stealth 14-11 in their last outing. It's been an up-and-down season for the crew from Colorado, who've lost twice to the last-place Rush but have beaten every other West Division squad once so far.

For their part, the Riggers certainly haven't forgotten the Valentine's Day heartbreaker in the Mile High City, although Malawsky thinks it might've been a blessing in disguise.

"It was good for us, and I was the first one to pipe up and say that," he said. "It was good for us -- a wakeup call. I think a few guys were putting the cart before the horse, so I think it was important. It grounded us, reminded us anyone can win on any given night in this league."


Videos

Photos