HOME OPENER: The Calgary Roughnecks will kick off their 2013 campaign against the Toronto Rock in the Adrenalin Source For Sports Home Opener tonight at the Scotiabank Saddledome. In his second year as Calgary’s general manager, Mike Board has high hopes for the Riggers. “We expect to be a fast, athletic team that’s going to run the ball a lot,” Board said. “We are going to play hard defence. We want to be better in our own building and we want this to be a hard place to play. We have a lot of stuff we want to achieve throughout the season so that we are ready for that playoff run that we didn’t have last year.”
ROUGHNECKS VS. ROCK: The Riggers compiled a 1-1 record against the Rock last season, winning 12-9 in Toronto on Jan. 9 before suffering a 14-13 overtime loss at home on Jan. 28. Curtis Dickson led the way offensively for Calgary with 11 points. Dickson had a goal and four assists in the victory before notching a hat trick and three helpers during the setback. Dane Dobbie was also solid with four goals and six assists in the two-game set, while Shawn Evans (4g, 4a), Jeff Shattler (3g, 5a), Scott Ranger (3g, 4a) and Daryl Veltman (3g, 3a) also had strong performances. After recording a goal and an assist for Toronto in the first game, former Roughneck Josh Sanderson notched a hat trick to go with six helpers to lead the Rock to victory in the second game. Garrett Billings (3g, 5a) and Stephan Leblanc (1g, 4a) also played well for the Rock in the two games against the Riggers. Calgary goalie Mike Poulin went 1-1 against the Rock, while Toronto netminder Matt Roik also had a win and a loss in the series. The Roughnecks have compiled an all-time regular-season record of 9-14 (5-6 at home, 4-8 on the road) against the Rock.
SITTING OUT: Dobbie will miss the first game of the season as a result of a game misconduct penalty he took during Calgary’s playoff loss to the Edmonton Rush on May 5. After being deemed the instigator of a fight during Calgary’s 19-11 loss to Edmonton, Dobbie was assessed a one-game suspension, which he will serve on Saturday.
A LOOK BACK: Led by the offensive exploits of Evans and Shattler, the Roughnecks finished atop the 2012 NLL standings with a 12-4 record. In his first year with the Riggers after being acquired from the Rochester Knighthawks, Evans led Calgary in scoring with 32 goals and 47 assists in 16 games played. Shattler followed up a 75-point season in 2011 with 72 points (31g, 41a) in 2012. Veltman (20g, 42a), Ranger (24g, 37a), Dickson (31g, 25a) and Dobbie (28g, 22a) also had solid offensive seasons for the ’Necks. In net, Poulin was a workhorse for the Riggers as he compiled a 10-3 record to go with a 10.27 goals against average and a .789 save percentage. After finishing first in the NLL’s West Division, the Roughnecks hosted the Edmonton Rush (6-10) in the first round of the playoffs on May 5. Led by five goals and six assists from Ryan Ward, the Rush upset the Riggers 19-11. Corey Small also had a strong game for the Rush with five goals and three assists, while Tom Johnson had a hat trick. Ranger notched four goals and an assist for the Roughnecks, who beat the Rush all four times the two teams faced off against each other in the regular season. “They just worked harder than us,” Ranger said. “They got the bounces they needed and we didn’t get the bounces and we weren’t working hard enough. It’s unacceptable and our season’s over because of it.” Dobbie had a hat trick and four assists for the ’Necks, Evans scored twice and set up four others, while Shattler had two goals and three assists.
RETURNING VETERANS: Captain Andrew McBride leads a group of 19 returning players on Calgary’s roster this year. “The pieces are in place,” said McBride, who will once again anchor Calgary’s defence corps. “I couldn’t be happier with the group. Now it’s about executing as players and really taking it to the next level.” Joining McBride on defence for another season are Dan MacRae as well as the brother combinations of Mike and Scott Carnegie and Greg and Jon Harnett. Back from last season at forward are Jeff Shattler, Shawn Evans, Curtis Dickson, Darryl Veltman, Dane Dobbie and Scott Ranger. At the transition position, Geoff Snider, Curtis Manning, Travis Cornwall, Nolan Heavenor and Peter McFetridge are all back for the 2013 campaign. Mike Poulin will once again be the starter in between the pipes, while Frankie Scigliano will be counted upon to be a reliable back-up goalie.
NEW FACES: New additions to Calgary’s roster include forward Aaron Pascas, who the ’Necks acquired from the Toronto Rock in exchange for a draft pick, and defenceman Brad Richardson, who signed as a free agent. Among the five new faces who made the team are three of Calgary’s seven 2012 NLL Entry Draft selections: forward Joe Resetarits (first round, sixth overall), transition player Matthew Dinsdale (first round, seventh overall) and forward Jackson Decker (second round, 17th overall).
MOUSE’S MUSINGS: Curt Malawsky, whose nickname is ‘Mouse’, took over as the sixth head coach in Roughnecks’ history prior to the start of the 2013 season. “Expectations are high,” said Malawsky, who helped the Riggers win a Champion’s Cup in 2009 in the final season of his 12-year playing career. “It’s championship or nothing. That’s what we’re setting our goals on. Myself as a coach, I have a philosophy and some values. I believe I have a recipe for what it takes to win. We might be a little different out the start of the gate than we were the last couple of years. We’re trying to make sure it all accumulates in May when those last three games come up on us. We’re really gearing up towards that.” Malawsky will be assisted by Bob McMahon as offence coordinator and Bruce Codd as defence coordinator. It’s the third season for McMahon on the Calgary coaching staff, while Codd joined the Riggers this season.
LETTER MEN: Andrew McBride is back for another season as Calgary’s captain, while Mike Carnegie will again serve as an assistant. With the retirement of Kaleb Toth, another assistant spot opened up. Malawsky chose to reward Scott Ranger for his leadership abilities. “He’s eager to do it,” Malawsky said. “He does a good job leading us without a letter and now he’s got a letter, so our leadership group is strong and we’re really going to lean on those guys.” Ranger said he was honoured to accept his new role as an assistant captain. “I try to base my game on leadership anyways,” he said. “Now with the letter, it just gives me the opportunity to talk to the refs. It’s definitely one of those things that I’m going to be proud to wear on my shirt for sure.”
DID YOU KNOW?: With the addition of Resetarits and Dinsdale, the Riggers now have eight of their own first-round picks on their roster. The others are Cornwall (seventh overall in 2011), Dickson (third overall in 2010), MacRae (sixth overall in 2010), Manning (sixth overall in 2008), Dobbie (fourth overall in 2007) and McFetridge (10th overall in 2007). The ’Necks also have four other first round picks who were originally selected by other teams: Veltman (1st overall in 2008 by the Boston Blazers), Snider (fourth overall in 2006 by the Philadelphia Wings), Shattler (10th overall in 2005 by the Buffalo Bandits) and Ranger (seventh overall in 2003 by the San Jose Stealth).
CALLING IT A CAREER: Kaleb Toth, the longest serving member of the Roughnecks, announced his retirement on Dec. 20. Toth, who was acquired from the Toronto Rock prior to the 2002 NLL season, spent the last 11 seasons in a Calgary uniform after his first two seasons with Toronto. Toth is a veteran of over 200 NLL regular season and playoff games combined. “It has been an honor for me to have played for the Calgary Roughnecks and in my hometown, but the time has come for me to announce my retirement from professional lacrosse,” Toth said. “I would like thank the Roughnecks, my teammates, past and present, for their support and for the memories we will always share. I would especially like to thank my family for their continued support and look forward to spending time with my wife, son and daughter and my future endeavours.” The Calgary native is a four-time NLL all-star (2002, 2004, 2005, 2006) and holds almost every regular season offensive record for the Roughnecks including most games played (160), goals (274), assists (354), points (628) and game-winning goals (15). “He has been a consummate professional, a leader in the dressing room and in the community,” said Roughnecks general manger Mike Board. “For all those reasons and more, he is destined for the NLL Hall of Fame. As an organization we are proud to have had him wear the Roughnecks jersey and he will remain a Roughneck forever.” In addition to leading the Roughnecks to two NLL championships (2004 and 2009) and one with the Toronto Rock (2000), Toth has established the Roughnecks franchise record for playoff assists (34), power-play goals (8), loose balls (78) and is second in games played (16), goals (22) and points (56).
MILESTONES WITHIN REACH
- In his seventh NLL campaign, Geoff Snider needs just three points to reach 200 and eight loose balls to reach 1,300.
- Nolan Heavenor is five points away from reaching the 100 mark in his eighth NLL season.
- With six more penalty minutes, Andrew McBride will have spent 300 minutes in the sin bin.
- By setting up six more goals, Scott Ranger will reach the 200-assist mark.
- Jeff Shattler needs to scoop up just nine more loose balls to reach 700.
- Daryl Veltman needs to score 10 more times to hit the 100-goal mark.
- Mike Poulin needs just three more wins to reach 30.