Check out this season's first edition of Rigger Ramblings, an in-depth look at the happenings of the Calgary Roughnecks.
ROAD WARRIORS: The Calgary Roughnecks will kick off their 2012 campaign with a road game against the Toronto Rock this Sunday (4 p.m. MST, TSN). After taking on the defending National Lacrosse League champions at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, the Riggers will then travel to Everett, Wash., to face the Washington Stealth next Saturday, Jan. 14 (8 p.m., MST). New Roughnecks general manager Mike Board said the pair of road games will definitely be a tough test for his squad. “I don't necessarily mind starting on the road,” Board said. “It's a tight league. I think on any given night, any team can win, so let's get off the hop and play the tough games. They're all going to be tough, so why not take on the champions? The next week after we play Washington, who was also in the final. I think it's great to start that way. We'll know where we sit after the first two weeks. We'll know what our squad can do against the other top teams in the league.” Calgary's home opener is set for Saturday, January 21 when the Roughnecks host the Colorado Mammoth. Game time is 7:00 p.m. at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
ROUGHNECKS VS. ROCK: Calgary compiled a 1-1 record against the Rock last season, losing 9-8 in overtime in Toronto on Feb. 12 before rebounding with a 14-9 win at home on March 25. Jeff Shattler and Dane Dobbie led the way offensively for Calgary with 10 points each. Shattler scored twice and set up another in the loss before notching a hat trick and four helpers in the win. Meanwhile, Dobbie had three assists in Toronto before exploding for four goals and three helpers in Calgary. Rookie Curtis Dickson was also solid with five goals and one assist in the two-game set, while Scott Ranger (6a) and Darryl Veltman (2g, 2a) also had strong performances. Shawn Evans, who the Roughnecks acquired from the Rochester Nighthawks in the off-season, had eight points (1g, 7a) in three regular-season games against the Rock last year. Evans then had two goals and two assists during Rochester's 10-8 playoff loss to Toronto on May 1. Calgary goalie Mike Poulin went 1-1 against the Rock, while veteran Toronto goalie Bob Watson also had a win and a loss in the series. Watson then retired after helping Toronto capture the Champion's Cup last season. The Roughnecks have compiled an all-time regular-season record of 8-13 (5-5 at home, 3-8 on the road) against the Rock.
A LOOK BACK: Led by the offensive exploits of Shattler and Dobbie, the Roughnecks finished atop the 2011 NLL standings with an 11-5 record. After recording 75 points (29g, 46a) in 15 games, Shattler was named the NLL Transition Player of the Year as well as league MVP. Dobbie also put up 75 points with a team-leading 34 goals and 41 assists in 15 games. In 14 games, Ranger compiled a career-high 29 goals and added three assists, while Kaleb Toth (16g, 37a), Dickson (33g, 19a), Cory Conway (12g, 33a) and Veltman (13g, 29a) also had solid offensive seasons. In net, Poulin was a workhorse for the Riggers as he played in every game and compiled an 11-5 record to go with an 11.03 goals against average and a .765 save percentage. The Riggers opened the post-season with a 10-6 win over the Colorado Mammoth on April 30. Ranger and Dobbie both finished with three goals and an assist in the win, while Shattler scored once and set up four others. Dickson got in on the action with a pair of goals and an assist, while Geoff Snider had three helpers. Poulin made 43 saves to record the win. Unfortunately for the 'Necks, their season ended on May 7 with a 10-8 loss at home to the Stealth. Former Roughneck Lewis Ratcliff led the way for Washington with a hat trick and four helpers. Ranger had a goal and four assists for the Riggers, while Dobbie (1g, 3a), Shattler (1g, 2a), Toth (1g, 2a), Veltman (2g), Dickson (1g, 1a) and Conway (2a) also had multiple-point performances.
NEW-LOOK RIGGERS: In addition to acquiring Evans in the off-season, the Roughnecks also picked up forward Geoff McNulty and goalie Nick Rose from the now-defunct Boston Blazers in the 2011 NLL Dispersal Draft. Among the six new faces who made the team are three of Calgary's five 2011 NLL Entry Draft selections: transition player Travis Cornwall (first round, seventh overall), defenceman Greg Harnett (second round, 11th overall) and goalie Frankie Scigliano (second round, 18th overall).
RETURNING VETERANS: Captain Andrew McBride leads a group of 18 returning vets on Calgary's roster this year. “We've got one of the best teams in the league,” said McBride, who will anchor Calgary's defence corps. “When we're firing on all cylinders, staying disciplined and playing our game, we're one of the top teams in the league. This season, there's going to be a lot of even competition and the difference is going to be faceoffs, special teams, staying out of the box. Whoever can execute those small things is going to be successful.” The Roughnecks are also pleased to welcome back Shattler, Dobbie, Ranger, Dickson, Conway, Veltman and Toth at forward. Joining McBride on defence for another year are brothers Mike and Scott Carnegie along with Jon Harnett, Mike Kilby and Dan MacRae. Transition players Nolan Heavenor, Peter McFetridge, Curtis Manning and Snider are also back in the fold along with Poulin in goal.
DID YOU KNOW?: Snider grew up in northwest Calgary and played his minor lacrosse for the Hornets Lacrosse Association. The Hornets officially retired his No. 4 jersey, which is currently displayed in the Brentwood Arena. Snider also played minor hockey for the Westwood Hockey Association before going on to play two seasons for the Calgary Midget AAA Flames. He then played three seasons for the Calgary Canucks of the AJHL with whom he scored 24 goals, added 31 assists and racked up 415 penalty minutes in 60 games during the 2001-02 season.
STREAMLINED LOOK: On Friday, The Calgary Roughnecks unveiled their new home and away jerseys for the 2012 NLL season. Calgary's new home (white) and away (red) uniforms feature a streamlined look with red sublimation on the sides of the home jerseys and shorts and black sublimation on the road set. The Roughnecks prevalent brand is continued in the new shoulder crest featuring an oil derrick with a prominent ‘R'. The uniforms produced by Reebok feature several improvements to the jerseys, including using a new, lightweight material and slimmer design to enhance player movement. “Reebok has revolutionized the NLL jerseys by introducing a lacrosse specific design and developing new materials to maximize performance,” said Steve Robaire, Head of Reebok Lacrosse. “The new NLL jersey has an ergonomic shape design to enhance range of motion and reduce drag. The material used for the NLL jersey is lightweight while offering four-way stretch as well as advances in abrasion resistance and wicking properties.”