Roughnecks top Rush in tiebreaker to reach NLL final

The Canadian Press
6/2/2014 6:03:05 PM
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EDMONTON -- The Calgary Roughnecks and Edmonton Rush needed an extra game to decide the National Lacrosse League's West Division final.

Shawn Evans scored a pair of goals in a special 10-minute mini-game as the Calgary Roughnecks defeated the Edmonton Rush 2-1 on Friday night to advance to the NLL's final.

The Roughnecks came into the night holding a 1-0 series lead thanks to a 12-11 overtime victory in Calgary last Saturday.

However, the Rush were able to hang on for a 15-13 win in Game 2, sending the series to the extra mini-game to decide the series.

Calgary got on board first in the mini-game as Evans had Rush goalie Aaron Bold going the other way with a shot two minutes in and then added another goal a minute later to give the Roughnecks at 2-0 lead.

Edmonton finally scored in the extra match with 1:39 to play with a goal by Zack Greer, but Calgary was able to kill the clock from there.

"You never know what to expect in a short overtime game like that," Evans said. "I'm just so proud of how we never quit on the night, even when things didn't look very good. We stuck together and now we are heading to the championship. It feels good."

The Roughnecks actually trailed 11-2 at one point in the full-length game, but came roaring back and gave themselves the momentum heading into the extra match-up.

"This is one of the greatest feelings of my life," said Calgary goalie Mike Poulin. "It was a hell of a night. I am really well of the way we responded and the way we played after the first half of the first game. We let it slip away for a bit, but we showed a lot of character and played a good 40 minutes after that to win the West."

Poulin's coach agreed.

"The big thing was to grind them down and remember who we are," said Roughnecks head coach Curt Malawsky. "It wasn't an easy game and I am very proud of our guys. They were all over us. It was just one goal at a time and then you start believing a bit. Then it is one loose ball or one save or a faceoff. It showed a lot when you could have easily mailed it in and play for another day, but the guys wouldn't do that. We have a special group here and we are excited to be playing again next week."

Calgary will now wait to see if their opponent will be the Rochester Knighthawks or the Buffalo Bandits when the two teams finish their series on Saturday night.

It was the first home playoff date in the nine-year history of the Edmonton Rush, who won the NLL's regular-season title with a 16-2 record.

"In the extra time, we out-played them, we out-chanced them. We had our opportunities," said Rush head coach and GM Derek Keenan "It's a crappy way to end our season, but that's the way it ended and it's hard to swallow, that's for sure."

Bold certainly isn't a fan of the new NLL playoff format.

"I think it's just ridiculous that 10 minutes decides the East or West Division, as well as a Champions Cup," he said. "That needs to be switched around to a full game because that's a little bit of a joke. I may be saying that because we're on the short end of the stick, but realistically that's not a way to win. But Calgary won and hats off to them."

Things actually looked like they were going to go Edmonton's way to start the night.

The Rush took a 2-0 lead in the night's first game with a pair of quick goals bookended around the five-minute mark of the first quarter, as Mark Matthews and Greer got shots past Poulin.

Calgary responded with its first goal midway through the opening frame, as Evans scored on the Roughnecks' first shot of the game on Bold.

Edmonton made it 3-1 as Bold sent defender Nik Bilic on a breakaway and he made good on the opportunity.

Calgary cut the lead to a goal, but the Rush came storming back with an impressive five goals in a 90-second span, including the second of the game for both Matthews and Greer, to lead 8-2 with three minutes to play in the first. The five goals in a minute-and-a-half set a new NLL record.

The Rush outshot Calgary 18-6 in the first, with their eight goals tying a team record for the most goals in a quarter.

Edmonton kept coming to start the second as Curtis Knight scored a short-handed goal just 23 seconds in.

The Rush struck twice more in the first five minutes of the second to make it 11-2, prompting the Roughnecks to replace Poulin in net with backup Frankie Scigliano.

Calgary finally stopped Edmonton's run of eight goals in a row with four straight of its own, before Edmonton finally got one back for a 12-6 lead at the half.

Poulin returned to the Calgary net for the second half.

The third goals of the game from Evans and Dane Dobbie allowed Calgary to close the score to 14-10 heading into the fourth quarter.

The Roughnecks kept coming and notched a pair of goals to close the score to 14-12 four minutes into the fourth.

Scott Ranger scored with just over five minutes to go to make it a one-goal game, but the Rush were able to hang on for dear life and put the game away with an empty-net goal from Bilic to give them the 15-13 win and force the mini-game to decide the series.

Notes: It was the third time that the two Alberta-based team have met in the NLL playoffs. The Rush won the two previous post-season encounters, emerging victorious in one-game West Division semifinals in both 2010 and 2012a Edmonton won the season series between the two teams for the first time in franchise history, going 3-1. However, Calgary handed the Rush their lone loss at home this yeara Edmonton finished the regular season as the NLL's top team with a record of 16-2, while Calgary was second in the West at 12-6a The Roughnecks 12-11 overtime win in the first game of the series was a bit contentious as the Rush claimed Jeff Shattler's game tying goal in the final minute shouldn't have counted due to an unreviewed crease violationa The announced attendance in Edmonton was 9,120.

Roughnecks celebrate (Photo: Dale MacMillan/NLL)


(Photo: Dale MacMillan/NLL)
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