Roughnecks advance with win over Mammoth

Wes Gilbertson, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:25 AM ET

Apparently, nobody warned the Calgary Roughnecks’ offence about the early start.

The opening faceoff was bumped ahead to avoid a conflict with the headlining bouts at UFC 129 in Toronto, and for the first hour, the Riggers looked like a team on the brink of being knocked out.

Perhaps it’s a coincidence, but just as the clock struck the usual start time of 7:30 p.m., the shooters seemed to arrive — at least for long enough to send the hosts to a 10-6 victory over the Colorado Mammoth in Saturday’s first-round playoff showdown at the Saddledome.

“Our motto is ‘What’s next?’ ” said Roughnecks forward Jeff Shattler. “We had a rough start. I think a couple of guys were nervous, myself included, and didn’t want to make any mistakes out there, but once the game picked up and the flow started going, our instincts took over.

“And thank God we won, because I didn’t want the same result as last year.”

The Riggers, who were bounced in the first round last spring, will host the Washington Stealth in next Saturday’s league semifinal. Even better, that game starts at the usual time.

The digital clocks at the Saddledome had just blinked to 7:30 p.m. Saturday when Shattler finished off a pretty passing play with teammate Scott Ranger, giving the Roughnecks a 4-3 lead over the pesky out-of-towners midway through the second quarter.

At 7:35 p.m., rookie righty Curtis Dickson fired a bullet from outside to give the hosts a two-goal cushion. And only one minute later, Dane Dobbie was celebrating a sneaky shot that spotted the Riggers a 6-3 lead.

On a night that the offence looked mostly punch-drunk, that proved to be a big enough lead to get the job done in front of 10,092 fans at the Saddledome.

Dobbie and Ranger each scored a hat-trick for the Riggers, admitting later that they missed the tutelage of offensive assistant Curt Malawsky, who welcomed a baby boy and stayed home with his family in B.C.

Dickson potted a pair, while Jeff Shattler and captain Andrew McBride had one apiece. Shattler also had four assists, while faceoff ace Geoff Snider had a hat-trick of helpers.

John Grant Jr. scored three times for the Mammoth. Nick Carlson and brothers Ilja and Alex Gajic added singles.

Their high-powered offence is a big reason the Riggers arrived at the National Lacrosse League playoff party as the first seed. But it was thanks to a stingy effort by their defensive corps and goalie Mike Poulin, plus a few timely goals, that they avoided being among the first to exit.

Poulin finished with 43 stops Saturday, outduelling Colorado’s Chris Levis, who had 33 saves and certainly can’t be blamed for the loss.

“Not that he hasn’t played well all season, but Poulin stood on his head tonight,” Dickson said. “Offensively, we didn’t have the best night we’ve had all year and we missed Curt a bit on the bench, but we stepped it up and scored the goals we needed to and the defence, they helped out Poulie a lot, as well. It was just a good team game.”

The Stealth advanced with Saturday’s 14-8 triumph over the Minnesota Swarm. In other NLL action, former Roughnecks captain Tracey Kelusky and the Buffalo Bandits eked out an 11-10 victory over the Boston Blazer in upstate New York.


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