News, notes and analysis from the Roughnecks home opener.
The Calgary Roughnecks may have lost their season opener 16-11 to the Toronto Rock, but for three rookies, they achieved lifelong goals.
Freshman Tor Reinholdt, Karsen Leung and Garrett McIntosh all played in their first career games on Friday, and caught the eye of head coach Curt Malawsky.
“I thought they were great. I thought all three rookies gave it everything they had,” he said. “Karsen had some great chances but the ball didn’t fall. Tor competed strong and Big (Garrett) Mac hit the post. I thought they gave everything they needed coming into a hostile environment and I’m very proud of those three guys.”
Much was said during training camp about what these rookies would bring to the table. They made up Calgary's first three picks in the 2013 NLL Entry Draft, with Reinholdt and Leung contributing major roles in the transition area. MacIntosh brings a sturdy 6-foot-3, 220-pound frame to the back end that the Roughnecks hadn’t employed in a number of years.
It wasn’t just lip service paid by Malawsky and the rest of the organization.
Leung and Reinholdt were in the starting lineup, and had regular shifts for the full 60 minutes. They even saw some special team action as well.
Leung, the 10th overall pick in the draft, said he hoped his first game would result in a victory.
“It was exciting,” he said. “It was very fast-paced, which I was expecting. It would have been nice to come out and have a good first quarter, but obviously that didn’t happen. We just have to improve that next weekend.”
As Malawsky alluded to above, he had a few quality scoring chances, including a clear-cut breakaway on goalie Nick Rose.
But instead of conceding that he was happy to be in the right situation, he said after the game, “I have to capitalize on those chances, especially being down.” It was a veteran-esque voice coming from the rookie.
All three may have been held off the scoresheet, but it’s just a matter of time before they score their first career goals.
Last year, Roughnecks forward Shawn Evans and Rock forward Garrett Billings competed right to the last weekend for the NLL scoring lead, a competition Evans would win with 112 points. Based on tonight’s evidence, we might be seeing much more of the same this campaign. Both players led their respective teams, with Billings (1g, 9a) earning two extra assists over Evans (1g, 7a). As of right now, the pair occupy the top two spots in the NLL scoring chart.
With Scott Ranger out for the foreseeable future, sophomore Matthew Dinsdale was moved permanently to forward. He may not have the size that Ranger does, but the right-hander played well, scoring once. Ironically, it already matches the amount of goals he got during his rookie campaign.
STAT OF THE NIGHT
100% ~ The Roughnecks were a perfect three for three with the man advantage.
“I thought Mike Poulin was brilliant. He kept us in the game and was our best penalty-killer out there. He stopped about 74 per cent of the balls, and there was a couple that went in on the empty net that he’ll get chalked up for, but I thought he was great.” - Curt Malawsky.