Raiders coaches on the verge of championship
Lacrosse: McBride, Dobbie and Roughnecks one win away from title
Wednesday, May 28, 2014 06:00 am
Offence sells tickets and defence wins championships.
The Calgary Roughnecks won the battle on both fronts and behind a Herculean defensive effort took Game 1 of the National Lacrosse League finals with the Rochester Knighthawks by a 10-7 count with Okotoks Jr. A Raiders coaches Andrew McBride and Dane Dobbie playing a central role on Saturday at a packed Saddledome.
“When we can get a lead we’re a really good team with that lead, when we’re up we can really work and do our thing especially on the defensive end,” said McBride, the Roughnecks captain. “It was one of the better team efforts we’ve had all year.”
The two-time defending champion Knighthawks aren’t short on offensive firepower, led by league points leader and back-to-back finals MVP Cody Jamieson.
You wouldn’t know it by Saturday’s seven-goal performance by the visitors.
Chalk it up to preparation in the form of watching film and a continuation of the physical defending that saw the Riggers’ triumph over the Edmonton Rush in the semifinal.
“Our coaches prepared us so well, we watched a lot of video during the week and we wanted to keep to the same strategy we had against Edmonton,” McBride said. “To be physical and be really engaged off ball.
“(The Knighthawks) are such a smart team, they move the ball so well and have really dynamic players. I thought we really did a good job of banging them off ball and being accountable and not having those lapses on the floor.”
Calgary never trailed in the contest.
Dynamic playmaker and playoff leading scorer Shawn Evans set up the hosts first two tallies through Jeff Shattler and Scott Ranger. Superman Curtis Dickson then lived up to his moniker with a brilliant wrap-around tally, followed by Ranger’s second of the game to make it 4-1 Calgary.
After the Hawks cut the lead to one with two goals in succession, the league’s top sniper came to the forefront. Dobbie fought off a check and wristed a bouncing shot from the point eluding Rochester goalie Matt Vinc. Just 34 seconds later Dobbie again found the back of the net as he got down the floor in transition and made good on the odd-man rush.
“I never took my foot off the gas and that’s the best thing about this team, nobody takes the foot off the gas. Keep working hard and the bounces will go our way,” Dobbie said. “I got a nice lucky goal there on a no-look shot and that got me started.”
Dickson and Rochester’s Joe Walters exchanged markers to close the first-half scoring at 7-4. The Knighthawks cut the deficit to one with a two-goal third quarter before Dobbie kickstarted a three-goal Calgary surge in the fourth on a hat-trick marker from transition stud Karsen Leung with Mike Carnegie and Shawn Evans adding some late insurance.
Jamieson finally got in on the scoring with 10 seconds on the clock beating stud goaltender Mike Poulin and only delaying the celebrations from a raucous crowd of 16,541 – the largest attendance in an NLL championship game since 2008.
“It was rocking, man, not one empty seat in there,” McBride said. “All year they’ve supported us and really believed in the Calgary Roughnecks and it’s nice to reward the fans for that game.”
The two-game series switches East this weekend. Game 2 goes Saturday at Rochester’s Blue Cross Arena a venue the two-time defending champions have turned into a fortress.
“We had to take care of home floor, plain and simple,” said Dobbie, a 2009 NLL champion. “We go there and it’s a real tough building to play in and I would rather be up one than down one.
“We’ve got to be better next game than we were this game and hopefully we can bring this home.”
Should the Knighthawks win Game 2 it would force a mini-game to decide the NLL champion.
“We haven’t accomplished anything, we really need to be focused going in there,” said McBride, who boasts a pair of titles with the Riggers in 2004 and 2009. “It will be a really tall task travelling across the country into a hostile environment.
“Putting ourselves in a position to at least get into that mini-game is a good feeling.”
Ball-drop is 6 p.m. MT on Saturday. The game will be aired on Sportsnet 960 The Fan.
For more information go to calgaryroughnecks.com