A preview of Friday's home opener versus the Colorado Mammoth.
MAMMOTH TASK: After opening their 2014 National Lacrosse League season with a disappointing 16-11 setback to the Toronto Rock on the road last weekend, the Calgary Roughnecks (0-1) will look to even their record when they host the Colorado Mammoth (1-1) at the Scotiabank Saddledome this Friday (7 p.m.). “Tough loss, but we’re going to learn from it,” said Calgary coach Curt Malawsky. “We’re coming back hungry and we’re excited to be back home. I know the character and passion that we’ve got in this group – especially our leadership group. They’re going to answer the bell.” Colorado will be looking to avenge a stinging setback that it suffered the last time the squad visited the ’Dome on April 27 when the Riggers scored eight times in the second half to win 15-10 thus knocking the Mammoth out of post-season contention. “It’s a real challenge for our group,” said Colorado coach Bob Hamley. “They’re the team that put us out of the playoffs last year. We have a really good rivalry with the Roughnecks and we’re looking forward to getting on the road after two home games.”
COMEBACK CUT SHORT: Against the Rock in their season opener, the ’Necks trailed 9-4 at the half and 12-6 after three quarters. The Riggers then scored four of the next five goals to pull within three just past the five minute mark of the final frame. That’s as close as they would get though as the Rock rallied to score three goals, including an empty netter, in the final five minutes of the game. “It was a tough go out in Toronto,” Malawsky said. “They taught us a lesson out there. Our guys are pretty disappointed and they’re champing at the bit to get back at it.” Stephan Leblanc had an impressive outing for the Rock as he notched five goals to go with two assists, while Garrett Billings led all scorers with a goal and nine helpers. Rob Hellyer had a hat trick and an assist for the Rock, while Josh Sanderson (2g, 3a), Colin Doyle (2g, 2a), Kasey Beirnes (1g, 3a) and Ethan O’Connor (1g, 2a) also had multiple-point performances. Goalie Nick Rose, a former Roughnecks goaltender, played well in the Rock net as he stopped 40 of 51 shots fired his way. Jeff Shattler scored four times and set up two others for Calgary, while the NLL’s reigning MVP Shawn Evans chipped in with a goal and seven helpers. Dane Dobbie had two goals and an assist, while Daryl Veltman (1g, 3a), Curtis Dickson (1g, 2a), Matthew Dinsdale (1g, 2a) and Geoff Snider (1g) also scored. Goalie Mike Poulin made 45 saves in a losing cause.
ROUGHNECKS VS. MAMMOTH: The Roughnecks went 2-1 in the 2013 regular season against the Mammoth. After a 13-12 overtime loss to Colorado at home on Jan. 19, the Riggers rebounded with a 19-12 thumping of the Mammoth six days later in Denver. The ’Necks then won the season series between the two NLL rivals by virtue of a 12-11 victory back in Calgary on March 23. Evans led the way offensively for Calgary over Colorado with an impressive 11 goals and 19 assists in the three-game set, while Dobbie (7g, 10a), Shattler (6g, 9a), Dickson (8g, 3a) and Snider (5g, 3a) were also dangerous. John Grant Jr. led the Mammoth attack against the Riggers last year with 12 goals and seven assists in three games. Gavin Prout put up three goals and 11 helpers in the first two games against the ’Necks before being blanked in the third. Adam Jones (4g, 8a), Jordan McBride (4g, 8a), Sean Pollock (5g, 6a) and Jamie Lincoln (5g, 2a) were consistent contributors last season against Calgary as they hit the scoresheet in all three contests. Poulin went 2-1 in between the pipes for Calgary against Colorado, while Chris Levis went 1-1 in the Colorado net. Calgary has an all-time record of 14-14 (8-8 at home, 6-6 on the road) in the regular season against Colorado.
MOUSE’S MUSINGS: Nickname ‘Mouse’, Curt Malawsky is entering his second season as head coach for the Roughnecks. Malawsky, who is also the assistant general manager, said his squad has to get back to basics in order to bounce back from last Saturday’s 16-11 setback in Toronto. “It comes down to controlling momentum in the NLL,” Malawsky said. “They went on three three-goal runs and a five-goal run and we answered back with one four-goal run. That really doesn’t get it done in this league. Toronto wanted it definitely more than we did. That did not sit right with our veteran guys. Our young guys need to step up and follow their lead.” Malawsky will be assisted 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, Jeff Shattler finished second behind Evans in team scoring. Dobbie (40g, 32a), Scott Ranger (20g, 33a) and Daryl Veltman (13g, 30a) also had solid seasons for the ’Necks. In net, 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 Roughnecks 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 Riggers. Dobbie (3g, 2a), Evans (1g, 3a) and Shattler (4a) all played well in the loss.
RETURNING VETERANS: Captain Andrew McBride is one of 16 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 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 one of the back-up goalies.
NEW FACES: The five 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), defenceman Garrett McIntosh (3rd round, 24th overall), goalie Peter Dubenski (4th round, 34th overall) all made the squad out of training camp. Free agent signing Cody Hawkins is also new to the Riggers.
LETTER MEN: Andrew McBride is back for another season as Calgary’s captain, while Mike Carnegie will again serve as alternate captain. With Scott Ranger on the Physically Unable To Perform list to start the season, head coach Curt Malawsky announced that Dane Dobbie and Geoff Snider will split alternate captains 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?: Geoff Snider used to be teammates with his younger brother Bob with the Philadelphia Wings during the 2010 campaign. For the past three seasons, the two face-off aces have battled against each other as members of the Roughnecks and Washington Stealth respectively. Colorado subsequently acquired Bob from Stealth, which relocated to Vancouver in the off-season, for Ilija Gajic last August. So Friday’s game between the Riggers and the Mammoth will mark a new chapter in the battle of the Snider brothers, who both hail from Calgary. “There’s a lot of buzz around the city right now – a lot of excitement,” said Geoff in regards to Calgary’s home opener against his younger brother’s new team. “It’s going to be a great test for us playing a Mammoth team that’s got two games under their belt and very well coached and a very veteran team.”
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.
- With just seven point points, Daryl Veltman will reach the 300-point plateau.
- Geoff Snider is four goals away from 100.
- Mike Carnegie needs six more loose balls for 400. He’s also eight points away from 50 on his career.