ROAD WARRIORS: The Calgary Roughnecks ventured into hostile territory last Sunday and beat the defending National Lacrosse League champion Toronto Rock 12-9 on at the Air Canada Centre. Led by a hat trick and three helpers of the stick of Dane Dobbie, the Riggers battled back from 5-0 and 6-1 deficits to beat the Rock. “We just kept moving and we knew we were going to get our chances. At the start of third, (goals) started falling for us and we went on a little bit of a run and never really looked back.” Scott Ranger and Shawn Evans chipped in with two goals and an assist each. 2011 NLL Rookie of the Year Curtis Manning had a strong game with a goal and four assists, while Jeff Shattler, the reigning league MVP and Transition Player of the Year, scored once and set up three others. Cory Conway had a three-point night (1g, 2a), while Mike Carnegie and Daryl Veltman also scored. Geoff Snider won 16-of-23 faceoffs he took and led all players with 13 loose balls. Colin Doyle led the Toronto offence with a goal and three assists. Calgary goalie Mike Poulin made 29 saves to record the victory, while Toronto netminder Matt Roik stopped 41-of-52 shots he faced in a losing cause. The Roughnecks will play their second straight road game this Saturday (8:30 p.m. MST) when they travel to Everett, Wash., to face the Stealth. Calgary’s home opener is set for Saturday, Jan. 21 when the Roughnecks host the Colorado Mammoth. Game time is 7 p.m. at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
ROUGHNECKS VS. STEALTH: The Roughnecks went 2-1 in the regular season against Washington last year before suffering a disappointing 10-8 loss at home on May 7 in the 2011 West Final to the Stealth. Calgary beat Washington 13-11 in Everett on Jan. 9 before the Stealth rebounded with a 19-14 win over Calgary at the ’Dome on Jan. 22. Calgary then took the season series with a 17-3 road win over Washington on March 13 before the Stealth got its revenge in the post-season. In the three regular-season games, Shattler led Calgary’s offensive attack with 10 goals and six assists, while Ranger scored six times and set up nine others. Dobbie had nine goals and five assists in the three-game set, while Veltman (3g, 9a), Kaleb Toth (6g, 5a) and Conway (1g, 9a) also hit double digits. Rhys Duch led Washington with 19 points on eight goals and 11 assists, while Luke Wiles (11g, 7a), former Roughneck Lewis Ratcliff (9g, 9a) and Cam Sedgwick (4g, 7a) were also dangerous for the Stealth. In the West Final, Ratcliff haunted his former squad by leading the Stealth to victory with three goals and four assists. Jeff Zywicki also played well for Washington with a hat trick and three helpers, while Wiles (1g, 4a), Duch (1g, 3a), Paul Rabil (1g, 2a) and Cliff Smith (1g) also scored. Veltman scored twice in a losing cause for the Roughnecks, while Ranger (1g, 4a), Dobbie (1g, 3a), Shattler (1g, 2a), Toth (1g, 2a), Dickson (1g, 1a) and Snider (1g) also scored. Stealth goalie Tyler Richards made 44 saves to record the win, while Poulin stopped 43-of-53 shots he faced at the other end of the floor.
DID YOU KNOW?: Since the Stealth relocated from San Jose to Washington state two seasons ago, the Roughnecks have won all three games they have played at the Comcast Arena in Everett. Conversely, the Stealth has gone 3-0 on the road in games played at the Saddledome.
Over the previous six seasons before the move, the Roughnecks had compiled a 9-7 record against the San Jose Stealth (3-4 at home, 6-3 on the road).
PYM’S PERSPECTIVE: Dave Pym, who took over as the fifth Head Coach in Roughnecks’ history prior to the 2010 season, said his squad will have to be ready to face its second straight tough test to start the season. “Literally, feet out of the frying pan and into the fire,” Pym said. “We’ve got to face the other team that was in the championship game last year. We know that they knocked us out of the playoffs and we know that they are an extremely good team and one that we’re going to have to be extremely well prepared for. It’s going to be another huge test.” Once again, Pym will be assisted by Curt Malawsky as Offence Coordinator and Bob McMahon as Defence Coordinator. It’s the third season for Malawsky on the Calgary coaching staff, while McMahon is back for his second year behind the bench.
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 Toth (16g, 37a), Dickson (33g, 19a), 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 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.
NEW-LOOK RIGGERS: In addition to acquiring Evans from the Rochester Knighthawks 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.
STREAMLINED LOOK: On Jan. 6, the 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.”