News, notes and analysis from the Roughnecks 19-15 win over the Minnesota Swarm.
As Roughnecks head coach Curt Malawsky puts it, it wasn’t just the sheer quantity of saves goalie Mike Poulin made on Friday night – the timing was just as important.
It was two quarters in particular -- the second quarter where the Roughnecks jumped out to the 12-7 lead and the final frame where the Swarm was attempting to make their comeback -- that saw Poulin regain the form that made him last year’s NLL Goalie of the Year.
“He was big down the stretch when they were making their big push back in the fourth quarter,” Malawsky said. “He made some really big kick saves and he was going down. I’m a big proprietor of honest effort gets honest results and don’t try to cut the game short at all and he didn’t. He worked his butt off, went post-to-post and moved his feet.”
Poulin still feels like he could make a few more saves out there, but is improving as the season rolls along.
“There are just some five minute stretches where they are going on runs and I need to personally be the leader,” said Poulin, who made 40 saves for his sixth win of the year. “Defensively, I need to be the one making the stops and I think when we are going on a run where we are right now with high goals against, I need to be the one to play better.”
It was a defensive unit that were down two key bodies for the game. Curtis Manning was absent due to medical school commitments, while Mike Carnegie was out with the flu. In their absence, others stepped up.
“Those are if you ask me if you ask two of the best defenders in the league,” Poulin said. “Jackson Decker came back from the O door and came back to help play D. It’s pretty rare that an O guy can play as well as Jackson did. Guys really stepped up.
“I think Dan McRae has been has been steady as a rock all year and Scott Carnegie has been our quiet leader.”
One noticeable difference among the defensive players was the willingness to sacrifice their bodies to make sure some key shots weren’t going through.
“Those are things that don’t show up on the score sheet but it get’s recongnized when guys take their shirts off and there is bumps and bruises,” Malawsky said. “That’s what you need to win in this league is just sacrifice you body and do what it takes no matter what and that’s what we did tonight.”
Poulin added, “It’s the goal of every defensive guy is to soak a couple. As a goaltender, if you take one, I’ll buy you a beer every night. I think the guys are buying into what we have.”
Lacrosse has always been described as a game of runs, and tonight, they swung in Calgary’s favour. Twice, they had runs of five goals or more, while limiting the Swarm to just one three-goal run. And when the Swarm were able to get one past Poulin, the Roughnecks typically came right back to stop the momentum. For example, when Swarm player Joel Henry scored the second of back-to-back goals to make it 8-5 Roughnecks, rookie Joe Resetarits sniped his lone goal of the game 34 seconds later. Similar things happened later in the second quarter and in the final frame.
Poulin praised Jackson Decker for his work on the defensive end, but the rookie also picked up his first career NLL point when he helped set up a transition goal by Nolan Heavenor.
Go look at the league leaders on NLL.com, and you’ll notice they have a strong Roughnecks feel. In seven of the nine categories for runners, a Roughnecks player sits at the top of the list. They are: points (Shawn Evans, 72), goals (Dane Dobbie, 30), assists (Evans, 49), loose balls (Geoff Snider, 161), faceoffs won (Snider, 207), penalty minutes (Snider, 49) and powerplay goals (Dobbie, 12).
GOAL OF THE GAME
It came partway through the final quarter, with the Swarm trying to make a comeback. Jeff Shattler came from the corner with the defender draped on his back. Dobbie made a near-perfect pass where Shattler caught it with one hand on his stick down low and underhanded a shot through goalie Evan Kirk’s wickets. The stars lined up perfect on that one.
STAT OF THE GAME
100% ~ The Roughnecks boast the most powerful powerplay unit in the NLL, clicking at over 65 per cent of the time. But Friday night, they were perfect. All four times the Swarm gave them the man advantage, the ball ended up in the back of their net. Dobbie scored two of his six goals in that situation, and he took over the league lead in that category. He also tied former Roughnecks captain Tracey Kelusky for the franchise record with 58 PP goals in their career.
“I thought our discipline was better. Sure, we had a couple of penalties but at the end of the day on the scoresheet, we only had two penalty kills against. That’s going to win a lot of games in this league when you do that,” said Malawsky.