In the first of three matchups, the Roughnecks take on the Stealth with top spot on the line.
In a weird scheduling quirk, it's taken the Calgary Roughnecks half a season to finally take on the division rival Washington Stealth, who they will play three times in total the rest of the way.
With a tight West Division, Calgary’s performance against the Stealth will go a long way in determining the playoff seeding come May.
“When you look at it, they are chasing us, so these three games in the season series become very important,” said Roughnecks general manager Mike Board. “When you look at the teams we play the most, they are Edmonton and Washington and those two series against those two teams can make or break our season.
“It’s imperative that we get the wins when we can so we keep those guys behind us, chasing us.”
Both teams have finished half their seasons, with the Roughnecks holding the one-game lead over the Stealth at 5-3 on the year.
The Roughnecks are coming off a weekend where they split on a two-game road trip in Toronto and Minnesota. Head coach Curt Malawsky said discipline continues to be an issue on the squad, with the defensive unit forced to kill off 20 penalties over the two games.
With that many opportunities, Calgary gave up 13 powerplay goals.
“We have a problem there and that has to get corrected,” said defender Scott Carnegie. “We want to play five-on-five, that’s our game. Against Washington, they have some dangerous shooters and a potent offense that’ll kill us if we don’t stay disciplined.”
Luckily, the Roughnecks have been deadly shorthanded, with Curtis Dickson leading the league at six short-handed tallies. His shorthanded hat trick against Minnesota was the first in the NLL since at least 2004 and is now one short-handed marker off from tying the league record of seven SHGs.
As well, Dickson is now equal with Tracey Kelusky for the franchise career record of 12 shorthanded goals.
“Over the weekend, I was a little disappointed with the split,” said Calgary head coach Curt Malawsky. “Letting in 17 and 16, respectively, over the weekend is not going to get it done in this league very often. We don’t design our team to play in shootouts. We definitely have to look in our own backyard and clean up some of the mistakes.”
The Washington Stealth, on the other hand, have lost three of their last four games and maintain a .500 record at 4-4 through the season.
Last weekend, the Stealth fell victim to the potent Edmonton Rush offence, losing 15-10 on the road.
Calgary had Washington’s number last year, winning all three matchups, as well as own a perfect 5-0 record in Everett during the Stealth's franchise history.
Game time is 8 p.m. and fans can watch via Roughnecks Live for a chance to win free prizes.