The chance to host the NLL Championship Game is in the balance Saturday night between the Roughnecks and Stealth.
It’s been the mantra all season for head coach Curt Malawsky – improve every week.
The regular season didn’t mean nearly as much as just making sure the team was playing the right style of lacrosse once playoffs rolled around.
And it appears to be working for the Roughnecks -- they played their strongest lacrosse of the entire season in the second half of Week 16 with an overtime win over the Edmonton Rush to clinch the West Division.
They followed it up with the best second half a team could ask for the next week on way to a 15-10 victory over the Colorado Mammoth.
That got them to this point – hosting the West Division Final on Saturday with a chance to host the NLL Championship Game in the balance.
Their opponents are the same Washington Stealth team that came into the Scotiabank Saddledome for the 2011 West Division Final and ended the Roughnecks dreams of hosting the NLL Championship Game.
That loss ended Curtis Dickson and Dan McRae’s first season with the Roughnecks, and no doubt, they want revenge.
“This is the exact same situation from a couple of years ago where we met these guys in the division finals and came up short,” says Dickson, a sharp shooter with 42 goals on the season. “We’ve been waiting a long time to get to this point again and I think the boys are going to be ready to go.
“We don’t like these guys, they don’t like us and it’s always good games when we meet each other.”
Based on the Toronto Rock’s loss last week against the Minnesota Swarm, the winner of Saturday’s game will play host to the NLL Championship Game the following weekend.
The Stealth made it this far on the basis of their 12-11 win last weekend against the Rush, coming back from 7-2 halftime deficit to advance to the next round.
It marks a strong turnaround for the franchise, who finished last season at the bottom of the nine-team NLL.
“Shutting down their transition game, they get up the floor pretty well so getting on and off the floor hard (is key),” said defender Dan McRae.
The Stealth won the season series 2-1, but each game featured close scores.
Game time is 4:30 p.m. at the Scotiabank Saddledome, with tickets still available.