No dawdling. No loitering. No World’s Fastest Cow mimicking, spotting opponents a swatch of terrain and then trying to catch up.
Curt Malawsky is asking, please, for a little more Usain Bolt or Andre DeGrasse out of the blocks as the starter’s pistol goes off for this race.
“Fast start? Totally imperative,’’ emphasizes the Calgary Roughnecks’ fiery coach on the eve of 2017 skirmishing.
“We’ve had great finishes the last couple seasons, not getting the championship we strive for but kinda pulling things out of the fire to reach playoffs, Western finals.
“But it’s a hard way, always, to try and do business. No different than in games.
“So this year, more than any other, we want to jump out of the gates fast.
“Getting that first one helps build momentum and sets you up for what lies ahead.”
Over the past few Januarys, the Roughnecks have been guilty of pokey openings to seasons.
Last year, 0-2 left them playing catch-up, and in 2015 a truly ugly 0-6, 0-1 the season prior and 0-2 back in 2013.
Friday, the 2017 campaign kicks off with the Vancouver Stealth invading the Scotiabank Saddledome at 7 p.m.
“We start at home, and we certainly need to take advantage of that,’’ says Malawsky. “Every bit as importantly, though, we have a lot of divisional games through our first nine. You get too far behind in this half, you might not be able to reel things back in because you’re going to have divisional series already decided.
“There’s a lot ties into that.”
“The last few seasons,’’ concurs sniper Dane Dobbie, limited to a career-low 26 goals by a series of nagging hurts, “we came together a bit late. We took too long to get started. This year we have the chance to change that, with five divisional games right off the bat.
“With a good start we could really set ourselves up. Hopefully we can get this offence ticking right off the bat and win some games early.
“We’ve added some exciting new pieces and have a few second-year guys who’ll be steadier and can contribute right off the bat. Wesley (Berg), for example. He looks like a different guy out there now. His confidence is improved, he’s stronger, more ready to be a difference-maker right off the get-go.”
An 8-10 record a year ago, salvaged on the back of five wins over their closing eight games, propelled the ‘Necks into the playoffs, where they upset the Colorado Mammoth 11-10 at the Pepsi Center in Denver before tumbling to the eventual Champions Cup-winning Saskatchewan Rush over a two-game West final.
Lineup changes for 2017 include goaltender Mike Poulin off to the Georgia Swarm, opening a spot for 19-year-old Christian Del Bianco to partner with Frank Scigliano, and Reilly O’Connor gone to the New England Black Wolves.
Incoming are highly-touted rookie Holden Cattoni and Riley Loewen to shore up the left side, along with defender Chad Cummings.
“There’s a lot to be optimistic about, in my mind,’’ says Malawsky. “For starters, I really like our goaltending. I like how Frank and Christian play. I thought they were both exceptional throughout training camp.
“You can sense the confidence, the trust, the guys in the back have in both of them. They may be young guys but they produce, they feed off each, they know each other and have already developed the sort of bond you like to see in a goaltending pair.
“And I’m really encouraged by the fact we have the potential to play seven offensive guys up front and some good depth on the left side with Holden (Cattoni) and Riley Loewen to add to our three big guys over on the right.
“That takes a little pressure of Shats and Dobes and Curtis (Dickson), maybe they don’t have to go on so many runs and are fresher for us in fourth quarters, when it counts, when games are often won or lost.
“So from an offensive standpoint, I’m optimistic. Just the way the guys clicked in camp, you can see they’ve already got some chemistry.
“We didn’t go with heavy numbers up front, we went light for that reason, and I think how we can produce offensively is something we can look forward to.
“The games will tell.
“I’m eager to get this started.”