TOUGH TASK AT HAND: The Calgary Roughnecks (1-1) will play two games in two nights this weekend against a pair of tough opponents in the Edmonton Rush (2-0) and the Vancouver Stealth (1-1). On Friday, the Riggers will head north to Alberta’s capital city where they’ll face off against the Rush. “They’re really hot right now,” said Calgary head coach Curt Malawsky of the Rush, which is coming off an impressive 17-6 win over the Colorado Mammoth at home last Saturday. “We’re going to have to come ready to work because they’re intensity and their work ethic is very good and very strong. They’ve got a young, athletic group, so we’re going to have to be at our best up there.” Although he’s pleased with his team’s start, Edmonton coach Derek Keenan cautioned that there are still 16 games left to be played in the regular season. “It’s a little bit too early to get too excited or too high or for some teams too low, because it’s a long season with 18 games,” Keenan said. “We know that this weekend is going to be really difficult with Calgary coming to town because it’s always a pretty tough battle with those guys. We have to be prepared and be at our best.” On Saturday, the ’Necks will return home to the friendly confines of the Scotiabank Saddledome to host the Vancouver Stealth at 7 p.m. “It’s going to be a battle,” Malawsky predicted. “It’s going to be a war much like the game the night before and every game in the NLL. If you’re not at your best, you might as well chalk up the two points against you. We’re hopefully going to be at our best as we know they will be.” Although Calgary will have played on the road the previous night, Vancouver coach Chris Hall said he doesn’t expect that to play a factor in the game. “I don’t think tiredness is an issue in this league in back-to-backers,” he said. “Players are used to that. I expect the usual spirited game in Calgary on Saturday night.”
FANTASTIC FEELING: Jeff Shattler scored four goals in the first half to help lead the Roughnecks to a 13-11 win over the Mammoth during their home opener last Friday in front of 11,232 fans at the ’Dome. Shattler also scored four goals a week earlier during Calgary’s season-opening 16-11 setback on the road to the Toronto Rock, but it felt much better in a winning cause against Colorado. “It doesn’t matter how many points you get really,” Shattler said. “It is good for your self-confidence, but to get a W out of it I think that’s a lot better feeling for yourself for sure.” Dane Dobbie also had four goals to go with two assists, while Geoff Snider notched a hat trick and set up another. “The points aren’t the big deal right now,” Dobbie said. “It’s just getting the win.” In just his second NLL game, Karsen Leung notched his first goal and added two assists, while fellow Rigger rookie Garrett McIntosh also recorded his first points with two helpers. Reigning NLL MVP Shawn Evans chipped in with three assists, while Curtis Dickson scored once and set up another. Goalie Mike Poulin made 34 saves to record his first win of the season and added an assist for good measure.
ROUGHNECKS VS. STEALTH: The Roughnecks went 1-2 against the Washington Stealth in the 2013 regular season before losing 14-13 to the Everett-based squad at home in the NLL’s West Final. In the off-season, the Stealth relocated to the Greater Vancouver area, where they’ll play their home games out of the Langley Events Centre. After suffering a 16-14 setback to Washington at Everett’s Comcast Arena on Feb. 23, the Riggers responded with a 13-11 road win over the Stealth on March 30. The Stealth then edged the ’Necks 12-11 at the ’Dome on April 6 to win the season series. Evans paced the Roughnecks in scoring during the three-game set with four goals and 14 assists, while Dickson led all players with 10 goals to go with one assist. Dobbie scored seven goals to go with eight assists in the three games against Washington, while Shattler (7g, 6a), Scott Ranger (2g, 8a) and Snider (3g, 4a) were also dangerous. Rhys Duch led the Stealth attack against Calgary in the regular season with seven goals and added 15 assists, while former Roughneck Lewis Ratcliff scored six times and set up 11 others. Brett Bucktooth also performed well for Washington against Calgary with five goals and eight assists, while Dean Hill and Athan Iannucci counted four goals and three assists each. The Roughnecks compiled an all-time regular-season record of 7-5 (1-4 at home, 6-1 on the road) against the Washington Stealth. Over the previous six seasons when the Stealth franchise was located in San Jose (2004-2009), the ’Necks had compiled a 9-7 record in the regular season (3-4 at home, 6-3 on the road).
ROUGHNECKS VS. RUSH: The Roughnecks boast an all-time record of 23-5 (9-3 at home, 14-2 on the road) in the regular season against the Rush. The 23 wins over Edmonton are the most that Calgary has recorded against any NLL franchise. Calgary went 3-1 in the regular season against Edmonton last year. The Riggers started the 2013 season against the Rush with back-to-back wins (18-15 in Edmonton on Feb. 2 and 9-8 at home a week later) before dropping an 18-13 road decision on March 2. The ’Necks then captured the season series with a 12-11 win over the Rush in Edmonton on April 20. Both Shattler (7g, 15a) and Evans (6g, 16a) piled up 22 points each for Calgary in the four-game set against Edmonton. Veltman was also dangerous with eight goals and 11 assists, while Dickson (10g, 2a) and Ranger (3g, 7a) reached double digits in points as well. Poulin played in goal for Calgary in all four games, winning three of them. Ryan Ward, who’s no longer with Edmonton, consistently paced the Rush attack last season against the Riggers as he finished with seven goals and 14 assists in the four games. Zack Greer (6g, 7a), Mark Matthews (8g, 4a), Jarrett Davis (7g, 5a) and Corey Small (6g, 5a) were the next top offensive contributors for the Rush.
CENTURY MARK IN SIGHT: The next goal that Snider scores will mark a significant milestone in his NLL career. Playing in his eighth NLL season and fourth with the Roughnecks, Snider needs to score just once more to give him 100 regular-season goals. “I had no idea,” Snider said. “If you would have asked me if I would have done that, I would have said no. It only took me eight years to do that.” Dobbie is definitely rooting for Snider to accomplish the milestone moment this weekend. “I’ll make sure to get the ball for him,” said Dobbie, who was impressed with Snider’s hat trick performance in last Friday’s 13-11 win over Colorado in Calgary’s home opener. “It’s good to see. When our transition gets a couple goals, it just boosts our offence up.” For his part, Snider is just happy to be able to contribute. “Any time it goes in, it’s nice,” he said. “It just helps the team win and I’m certainly happy to put the ball in.
MOUSE’S MUSINGS: Nicknamed ‘Mouse’, Curt Malawsky is entering his second season as head coach for the Roughnecks. Malawsky, who is also the assistant general manager, commended his players for bouncing back with a big win over the Mammoth after the Riggers suffered a 16-11 setback on the road to the Toronto Rock one week earlier. “It was a big game for us to win our home opener,” Malawsky said. “We hadn’t done that for the last couple years. It was a nice hurdle for us to get over.” Malawsky will be assisted once again this season by Bob McMahon as offence coordinator and Bruce Codd as defence coordinator. It’s the fourth season for McMahon on the Calgary coaching staff, while Codd is entering his second season with the Riggers.
A LOOK BACK: Led by the offensive exploits of Shawn Evans, the Roughnecks finished atop the 2013 NLL West Division with a 9-7 record. In his second season with the Riggers after being acquired from the Rochester Knighthawks, Evans led the NLL in scoring with 32 goals and 80 assists in 16 games. He finished the year with 112 points (fifth highest total in NLL history) and was chosen as NLL MVP. He was the second Calgary player to win the award, following Jeff Shattler in 2011. Curtis Dickson continued to improve in his third NLL season. He followed up a 31-goal sophomore season with a 42-goal effort. Among NLL goal scorers, Dickson finished third behind now-Vancouver Stealth sniper Rhys Duch and Colorado Mammoth legend John Grant Jr. Tallying 33 goals and adding 41 assists, Shattler finished second behind Evans in team scoring. Dane Dobbie (40g, 32a), Scott Ranger (20g, 33a) and Daryl Veltman (13g, 30a) also had solid seasons for the ’Necks. In net, Mike Poulin was a workhorse for the Riggers as he compiled a 9-7 record to go with a 12.82 goals-against average and a .742 save percentage. After finishing first in the NLL’s West Division, the Riggers hosted the Colorado Mammoth (7-9) in the first round of the playoffs on April 27. Led by three goals and four assists from Shattler, the ’Necks downed the Mammoth 15-10 to advance. Veltman (1g, 5a), Evans (3g, 2a), Ranger (3g, 1a) and Dobbie (4a) also contributed to the win. Calgary then moved onto play the then-Washington Stealth (9-7) in the West Final at the ’Dome on May 4. Dickson scored seven times and added an assist in the second half of the game, but the Stealth squeaked out a 14-13 win to eliminate the ’Necks. Dobbie (3g, 2a), Evans (1g, 3a) and Shattler (4a) all played well in the loss.
RETURNING VETERANS: Captain Andrew McBride is one of 17 returning players on Calgary’s roster this year. Joining McBride on defence for another season is 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, Daryl Veltman, Dane Dobbie, Scott Ranger and Matthew Dinsdale. Geoff Snider and Curtis Manning return as transition players for the 2014 season. Mike Poulin will once again be the starter in between the pipes, while Frankie Scigliano will be counted upon as the back-up goalie.
NEW FACES: Three of the four new faces on the Roughnecks roster came from the 2013 NLL Entry Draft. Transition players Tor Reinholdt (1st round, 6th overall) and Karsen Leung (2nd round, 10th overall), and defenceman Garrett McIntosh (3rd round, 24th overall) all made the squad out of training camp. Free agent signing Cody Hawkins is also new to the Riggers.
LETTER MEN: McBride is back for another season as Calgary’s captain, while Mike Carnegie will again serve as an alternate captain. Dobbie and Snider will split alternate duties, with Snider wearing an ‘A’ at home and Dobbie wearing an ‘A’ on the road. “Geoff will be a great addition to our leadership group. Over the last few seasons he has evolved into an ambassador of the culture and standards created within the Roughnecks organization,” Malawsky said. “Dane’s passion and willingness to compete is second to none. He lives, breaths and sleeps lacrosse. The Roughnecks organization and his teammates are on his mind 24/7, and it is that kind of selflessness, dedication, commitment and passion that we are looking for in a leader.
DID YOU KNOW?: During his eight seasons in the NLL, Poulin has compiled a record of 37-24. Only one of those wins occurred when he wasn’t wearing a Calgary Roughnecks jersey. Poulin started his career with the Toronto Rock, with whom he compiled identical 0-2 records in both the 2007 and ’08 seasons. The Boston Blazers then made him the first overall selection in the 2008 NLL expansion draft. Poulin then went 1-1 in the ‘09 campaign with the Blazers and 0-2 the next season before Calgary acquired him from Boston in exchange for Calgary’s first-round draft pick in the 2011 NLL Entry Draft. “We’re very happy with Mike’s play,” said Malawsky, while noting that Poulin wants to return to the form that saw him compile a career-best 11-5 record in the 2011 season. “When he’s motivated like that and he’s got something to prove, it’s in our best interest to make sure he’s on the floor as much as possible. We’ve got full confidence in Mike and we’re going to ride him as long as we can.”
MILESTONES WITHIN REACH
- Curtis Dickson is tied with Tracey Kelusky for the franchise lead in all-time short-handed goals during the regular season at 12.
- Geoff Snider is just one goal away from 100 and 20 penalty minutes away from 500.
- Scott Ranger needs just two points to reach 400 for his NLL career.
- With just six points, Daryl Veltman will reach the 300-point plateau, while Jeff Shattler needs eight points to get to 400 and 11 loose balls to hit 800.
- Mike Carnegie needs just two more loose balls for 400. He’s also seven points away from 50 for his career and three penalty minutes away from 100.
- With 11 more goals, Dane Dobbie will reach the 200 mark.