The Vancouver Warriors’ pathway to the playoffs became a much trickier trek over the weekend.
The Warriors went into the weekend holding down the third and final automatic playoff spot out of the National Lacrosse League’s Western Conference.
The Warriors now sit fifth in the West at 6-9 after losing both ends of a rare doubleheader weekend, falling 10-9 in overtime to the host Calgary Roughnecks on Friday and 11-7 to the visiting Albany FireWolves on Saturday.
Vancouver is now chasing multiple teams for a post-season berth with three games left in their 18-game schedule. Should they not finish among the top three in the West they still have a chance to advance as the fourth place from the six-team West lands the eighth and final spot if it has a better record than fifth place from the eight-team East.
Vancouver Warriors vs. Saskatchewan Rush
7 pm, Sasktel Center, TV: TSN5
Vancouver is at the Saskatchewan Rush (4-10) on Saturday, has a bye the following week and then finishes off league play by hosting the Calgary Roughnecks (6-7) on April 16 and the San Diego Seals (9-4) on April 30.
Winning all three games would obviously enhance Vancouver’s chances, but it doesn’t automatically mean they’re in the playoffs, since Calgary and the Philadelphia Wings (7-8) could both still get to 10 wins and beat out Vancouver for third and fourth in the West.
“We have two of the last three at home. We need to take care of business,” Warriors general manager Dan Richardson said. “We’ll find out what kind of guys we have.”
Vancouver has been missing top player Mitch Jones (foot surgery) since he got hurt just before their Jan. 29 road game against the Colorado Mammoth. Richardson said Monday that there’s an “outside chance,” the left-handed forward will be ready to go for the regular season finale against San Diego.
The Warriors initially hoped that Jones would be back in action after eight weeks. According to Richardson, there was a setback that extended the timeline but Jones is “progressing at a good rate now.”
“We’re not going to put him in any danger. If our doctors and our physio say he’s not going then he’s not going,” Richardson said.