CALGARY, AB — After beginning the season with what seemed to be an insurmountable 0-6 record, the Calgary Roughnecks managed to storm back and squeak into the playoffs.
Once there, they defeated the Colorado Mammoth to advance to the West Division Final to face their Albertan rival, the Edmonton Rush. Unfortunately, that’s where their journey ended. After they split the first two games of the series, Edmonton took the tie-breaker 4-1.
With the season coming to a close, there are many positive takeaways, despite the playoff exit.
1) BETWEEN THE PIPES
When veteran goaltender Mike Poulin struggled in the early part of the season, back-up Frankie Scigliano took over and never looked back.
In his first stint as a starter in the NLL, the young netminder went 6-6 with an 11.12 goals against average and a .773 save percentage.
“Ever since he stepped in this year he’s been lights out and he’s given us a chance to win every night and that’s all you can ask out of a goaltender,” said Curtis Dickson. “Our offence obviously hasn’t been what it’s been in years past and our defence — especially in the second half of the season — has really stepped it up but Frankie has been solid for us.”
With his performance this year, the 23-year old has entrenched himself as the starting goaltender for the Roughnecks entering next season. Having started 13 games, the most in his career, Scigliano will be able to feed off of that experience to build towards next year.
The future is bright between the pipes for the Calgary Roughnecks.
2) MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
In 2013, Shawn Evans was named the NLL MVP. That season he finished with a league leading 112 points (32g, 80a).
Those numbers pale in comparison to the line that he produced this year. Evans scored a career-high 47 goals, tied an NLL single-season record with 83 assists, and set the new NLL single-season points record at 130 – obliterating the previous record of 116, set by John Grant Jr.
“From our perspective, not a lot was said about it during the season, even mid-season when he was on pace to break all these records,” said transition player Travis Cornwall. “Not a lot going on in the dressing room about it. There wasn’t a concerted effort to get him the ball, it just happened naturally over the course of the season, which is really cool.
“As far as Shawn is concerned, he’s a warrior, he’s an amazing player. I’m still not sure how he does what he does and that’s coming from a guy who’s been on his team for four years now.”
While Evans was dominant on the offensive side of the ball, he was no slouch on defence.
“He’s been fantastic,” said defenseman Garrett McIntosh. “He’s ben scoring goals when we needed him, he’s been making some huge plays, and he’s been getting back on defence even. He’s definitely down there helping us out, he’s ragging the ball, doing everything he can, and he’s having one heck of a year.”
While the 2015 edition of the Roughneck was chalked full of leaders, like Geoff Snider, Dane Dobbie, and Mike Carnegie, one man stood out.
That was, of course, team captain and 13-year veteran Andrew McBride.
“I’ll tell you straight up – I don’t think you get to this point in the season without having leaders like Andrew McBride,” Riggers coach Curt Malawsky said of his captain.
“If he’s not guiding the ship with this team being our captain, we don’t even get here. That’s a testament to his character and the type of person that he is. He captained this team, he took this team in when it was tough. You need the support of your leaders and we had the support of them and it was led by [McBride].
After the team dropped the first six games of their season, they knew the rest of the season would be a grind mentally and physically.
Having great leadership is key when you are playing must-win games for a large part of your season. When your leader is a guy that you care about and that you want to win for, it makes it easier and provides some more motivation to go out a battle hard.
“As a leader he manages to keep everybody together and identifies with everybody,” said Geoff Snider. “He’s an easy guy to suit up and go to war for.”
4) SPECIAL TEAMS
The Calgary Roughnecks special teams were indeed special in 2015.
On the man advantage, they scored 47 power play goals in 85 opportunities. That equates to a 55.29% success rate on the power play and ranks first in the NLL.
As usual, Shawn Evans quarterbacked the league’s top power play unit. That led to him contributing to 35 of the 47 goals.
On the penalty kill, the Roughnecks were just as dominating. Although they led the league in times short-handed, they still only allowed 36 goals. With a penalty kill percentage of 64.36%, they were the NLL’s top unit on the PK.
They even found a way to create some offence with the man down. They ranked second in the NLL with 14 short-handed goals.
It was Evans who led that charge, as he netted five short-handed goals – leading the NLL in that category.
Must-win games were the norm for the Roughnecks in 2015.
After starting out quite slow, the team showed a lot of heart and resiliency all season to bounce back and make the playoffs.
“Look what we came from. Look at what we did,” Malawsky said. “To battle back from 0-6 and to battle back to 2-8. To get ourselves within 10 minutes of the Championship, I’m pretty proud of those guys.”
The Roughnecks had many doubters after their poor start, but they had no doubts within their room.
While the season outcome was not what the players wanted, it should be considered a success after all that the team accomplished throughout the season.
“Down the line we will look at this as a success after the way that we started,” said forward Curtis Dickson.