The Riggers face the Rush in a home-in-home series on Friday and Saturday night.
BATTLE OF ALBERTA RESUMES: In the wake of a disappointing 15-11 home loss to the Minnesota Swarm last weekend, Calgary Roughnecks coach Dave Pym made a promise heading into this weekend’s home-and-home affair against the Edmonton Rush. “This is probably the best prepared I’m going to be for a game this year guaranteed,” stated Pym, who took responsibility for not having his players primed to play their best against the Swarm. “I’ve got to do a better job of putting my thumb on it and getting guys focused.” In the past, the Roughnecks (5-3) haven’t had a problem getting focused for the Battle of Alberta. Calgary has won seven straight regular-season clashes between the Alberta rivals, including a 12-8 triumph over the Rush (2-4) at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Feb. 18. “It’s a battle that we really enjoy getting involved in,” Pym said. “We want to go up there and obviously make up for the stinker that we threw down (against the Swarm).” Edmonton coach Derek Keenen also said he’s doing his best to get his players ready for the important two-game set against Calgary. “It’s time to get over that hump and not make excuses about anything – forget about what’s happened in the past and get over that mental hump first,” Keenan said. “When you take a look at the last game we played them, it was an even game until the last five or six minutes, and then we had lapses in the defensive end and turned the ball over on offence. So it comes down to execution.”
RUCKUS IN THE ROUGH HOUSE: The Riggers face the Rush at Rexall Place on Friday night before the two squads return to Calgary for Saturday’s rematch. Both games are 7:00 p.m. starts. Friday’s game will be broadcast live on Sportsnet ONE, with Saturday’s contest airing on Sportsnet West and Pacific. Both teams have sweetened the pot in an effort to attract fans to check out this weekend’s Battle of Alberta. In what the Roughnecks have billed as the Cardel Ruckus in the Rough House, the team with the highest paid attendance this weekend will win a charitable donation in the amount of $5,000 for their local minor lacrosse program. “Certainly our fans are great in Edmonton and Calgary has great fans as well,” Keenan said. “You always get a bit of overflow from both communities travelling up and down.”
STREAK SNAPPED: The loss to Minnesota snapped Calgary’s winning streak at three games. Ryan Benesch led the Swarm attack with four goals and three assists as Minnesota drew even with the ’Necks for second place (both at 5-3) in the NLL’s West Division. “They outworked us plain and simple,” Pym said. “Every guy in that room is going to reflect on their performance good and bad. There was some good stuff out there, but obviously it’s a lot more bad than good.” After missing three games with an upper-body injury, Dane Dobbie returned to Calgary’s lineup and counted two goals and two assists. Scott Ranger and Peter McFetridge tallied two goals and an assist each, while Shawn Evans scored once and set up four others. Daryl Veltman and Cory Conway notched a goal and two assists each, while Curtis Dickson and Geoff Snider also scored. Mike Poulin and rookie Frankie Scigliano split time in the Calgary net. Scigliano stopped eight of 13 shots he faced. Poulin, who stopped Minnesota forward Callum Crawford’s penalty-shot attempt late in the fourth quarter, finished the contest with 36 saves. Despite being denied on the penalty shot, Crawford had a strong game for the Swarm with two goals and four assists. Jordan MacIntosh, Andrew Suitor and Kevin Ross chipped in with two goals each, while Richard Morgan, Jay Card and Corbyn Tao also scored for Minnesota. Rookie netminder, Tyler Carlson stopped 32-of-43 shots he faced to improve his record to 3-2.
PYM’S PERSPECTIVE: According to Pym, who took over as the fifth head coach in Roughnecks’ history prior to the 2010 season, the Roughnecks have confidence that they can rebound from last weekend’s disappointing setback with a pair of strong performances against the Rush. “It doesn’t get any better than this,” Pym said. “We just want to get at it. We’re very hungry. We’ve got an angry group, and hopefully we can channel that anger into a positive outcome.” Once again this season, Pym is being assisted by Curt Malawsky as offensive coordinator and Bob McMahon as defensive coordinator. It’s the third season for Malawsky on the Calgary coaching staff, while McMahon is back for his second year.
DICKSON DELIVERS: Dickson notched three goals and added two assists to lead the Roughnecks to a 12-8 win over the Rush on Feb. 18 in front of 8,049 fans at the Saddledome. Every time Dickson has suited up against Edmonton, the Calgary forward has notched a hat trick. “It’s a pretty funny coincidence, but it’s tough not to get up for games against these guys,” Dickson said. “It’s the Battle of Alberta. I got to experience it last year four times. It’s just a great rivalry.” In his rookie season, Dickson had hat tricks in all four games – all wins for the Riggers – against the Rush in 2011. “He’s an incredible talent,” Pym said. “He’s got a nose for the net and he’s got a capacity to bury ’em.” Rookie transition player Travis Cornwall scored the first two goals of his NLL career, both in the fourth quarter during which the Riggers outscored the Rush 6-2. Jeff Shattler had two goals and three assists in the contest, while Veltman (2g, 2a), Evans (1g, 3a), Snider (1g, 2a) and Curtis Manning (1g) also contributed to the big win. Poulin made 40 saves in the Calgary net and chipped in with two assists for good measure. Scott Evans led the Rush attack with a two goals and three assists, while Corey Small also scored twice to go with two helpers. Edmonton goalie Aaron Bold stopped 37 of 49 shots he faced in a losing cause.
ROUGHNECKS VS. RUSH: The Roughnecks also won all four games they played against the Rush in the 2011 season and now boast an all-time record of 17-4 (7-2 at home, 10-2 on the road) against their rivals to the north. The 17 wins over Edmonton are the most that Calgary has recorded against any NLL franchise. The Riggers ran to a 15-11 win in Edmonton on Jan. 28, 2011 before edging the Rush 12-11 the next night back at home in Calgary. The ’Necks also beat the Rush 12-11 in Edmonton on Feb. 20 before sweeping the season series with a 19-14 triumph at the Saddledome on March 19. Shattler led all players in last year’s season series with seven goals and 20 assists, while Dobbie scored 10 goals to go with 15 assists. Dickson notched 12 goals to go with seven assists against the Rush, while Ranger scored eight times and set up 10 others. Kaleb Toth (4g, 10a) and Conway (2g, 8a) also fared well in the four-game set. Poulin backstopped the Riggers to all four wins making 147 saves along the way. Ryan Ward led the Rush scoring attack with seven goals and 15 assists in the four games against the Riggers, while Small (4g, 14a), Scott Evans (10g, 7a) and Jimmy Quinlan (4g, 2a) were also dangerous.
DID YOU KNOW?: While the Roughnecks have compiled a perfect 4-0 record so far this season on the road, they’ve only gone 1-3 at the Saddledome. “This year we seem to be performing well on the road, so perhaps it’s a good time to start this weekend on the road,” said Pym, while noting the team faces less distractions on the road. “When we travel on the road, the guys are a tight-knit group and they’re all together. They’re in hotels together, they’re on planes together, they’re going for meals together. It’s without distraction, and their only focus is the game. Really, that’s on my head for not insuring that they’re prepared the same way that we’re preparing them on the road. I’ve got to find ways in order to try and replicate that. I’ll take full responsibility for our lackluster home performances.”
ALL-STAR MVP: Snider was named the 2012 NLL All-Star MVP on Feb. 25 at First Niagara Center in Buffalo, NY. Snider also won the All-Star MVP award in 2008 when he represented the Philadelphia Wings. This year, he registered four goals, added two assists and won 22 of 26 face-offs as the West beat the East 20-18. Shattler and Manning also represented the Riggers in Buffalo. Shattler tallied one goal and set up three others for the West while Manning forced two turnovers in his first All-Star appearance.
VETERAN ROSTER: Captain Andrew McBride leads a group of 18 returning vets on Calgary’s roster this year. The Roughnecks are also pleased to welcome back Jeff Shattler, Dane Dobbie, Scott Ranger, Curtis Dickson, Cory Conway, Daryl Veltman and Kaleb Toth at forward. Joining McBride on defence are the brother tandems of Mike and Scott Carnegie and Jon and Greg Harnett (the latter of whom is a rookie), along with Mike Kilby and Dan MacRae. Veteran Ryan McNish has also played one game this season with the Riggers on defence. Transition players Nolan Heavenor, Peter McFetridge, Curtis Manning and Geoff Snider are also back in the fold along with Mike Poulin in goal. Newcomers include forward Shawn Evans, who the Roughnecks acquired from the Rochester Knighthawks in the offseason, and goalie Nick Rose, who Calgary picked up from the now-defunct Boston Blazers in the 2011 NLL Dispersal Draft. Three of Calgary’s five picks from the 2011 NLL Entry Draft also earn spots on this year’s roster: transition player Travis Cornwall (first round, seventh overall), defenceman Greg Harnett (second round, 11th overall) and goalie Frankie Scigliano (second round, 18th overall).
MILESTONES WITHIN REACH
- Scott Ranger needs to play six more games to reach 100.
- Kaleb Toth is five assists shy of 400. Toth also needs just eight more loose balls to reach 800.
- Curtis Dickson needs one goal to reach 50 and 16 points to hit 100.
- Nolan Heavenor is 10 points shy of 100.
- Dan MacRae needs to scoop up just four more loose balls to reach 100.