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Senior B Knights in 'dog fight' for third playoff seed

With just a pair of games left in the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse League (RMLL) regular season, the Rockyview Knights Senior B team will put it all on the line July 12 and 13, following an 8-4 home defeat July 8 against the Calgary Mountaineers.

In another low-scoring game for Rockyview, team manager Keith Berg said the Knights made too many mental errors.

“We played pretty well in the first and third [periods], but in the second period, we forced the ball too much and turned it over way too much,” he said.

“The flow of the game just got away from us in the second, which is usually when we have an advantage with our speed. Tonight, nothing clicked.”

The Knights started well against the Mounties, and took a one-goal lead  – courtesy of Mark Wilson – within the first 90 seconds. But Calgary controlled the rest of the opening stanza, leading 3-2 by the end of the period with goals from Zachary Foster, Mason Austen and former National Lacrosse League player Tyler Melnyk.

What followed was a stretch of more than 30 minutes in which the Knights failed to put a shot past Mounties goaltender Geoff Rainsford. The home team’s lack of offensive firepower allowed Calgary to extend its lead to 6-2 – Melnyk scored two more in the second period, while Jason Crook chipped in, as well.

“We played 40 minutes without getting a goal and only had seven shots on net in the second period, [compared] to their 24 shots,” Berg said. “I don’t think we got any transition goals. Usually, if you can get half your goals on transition, you’re in the game.”

Melnyk scored a fourth early into the third frame, bringing the score to 7-2, before Chase Carlson finally ended Rockyview’s scoring drought with nine minutes left.

Less than a minute later, Knights player Gage Turner fired a shot past Rainsford to reduce the Mounties’ lead to just three goals.

But a fifth snipe from Melnyk quickly put an end to any chance of a Knights comeback.

“[Melnyk] has been on the Mounties for years now, and we know what we’re dealing with, with him,” said Knights defender Ryan Gould. “He was shooting well tonight – there’s not much you can do when he’s scoring from that far out.”

With the loss, Rockyview is currently tied for third place in the Senior B division with the Beaumont Outlaws, though Beaumont has a game in hand. While the top four teams qualify for the RMLL playoffs, the first-place team has the advantage of facing the fourth seed, while the second-place team takes on the third.

Now boasting a .500 record, Rockyview will need to perform in its final two games to secure third place. Doing so would mean an opening playoff series with the second-place Mountaineers (10-5), instead of the dominant St. Albert Miners (11-1).

“It’s a dog fight to try and finish third,” Berg said, adding the team will have to “grind it out” in its final games.

The Knights will return to the Plainsmen Arena July 12 to face the last-place Calgary Raiders (1-13), before concluding the regular season the following day with another battle against the Mounties in Calgary.

“It’s a time of year where we have a short bench, due to Stampede,” Berg said. “We just have to get through the next two games and try to prepare as best we can for playoffs.”


Scott Strasser

About the Author: Scott Strasser

Scott Strasser, sports/RCMP reporter
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