CALGARY, AB — This weekend, the Calgary Roughnecks are on the road to face the Saskatchewan Rush on Saturday at 7:30 pm MT. The Roughnecks worked a two-game split last weekend and are looking to get back in the win column after a heartbreaking overtime setback to the Colorado Mammoth.
Here are 5 things to watch for Saturday’s contest against the Rush:
While there aren’t many guarantees in sport, there is one guarantee that can be made heading into this contest: the goaltending will be top notch. Saturday’s tilt pits two of the leagues top goaltenders against each other. Aaron Bold has been great for the Rush this season and currently leads all goalies in GAA with 10.55. Across the floor, Mike Poulin has re-established himself as one of the best goalies in the NLL. After filling in for Frankie Scigliano earlier in the season, Poulin has taken control of his crease. He sits third in the NLL with a 10.87 GAA and fourth in save percentage at .787 percent. Look for each goaltender to match saves and frustrate the opposing offences.
2) ON THE OFFENSIVE
After adding Tyler Digby, Wesley Berg and Reilly O’Connor in the offseason, the Roughnecks offence had a brand new look and a new identity. Early on, the new offence was creating plenty of chances but was struggling to convert. The chemistry wasn’t quite there yet. Through the first 14 games, the Necks have averaged only 11.5 goals per game. However, in recent weeks, the offence has found it’s groove and is putting up big numbers. Over their last four games, the Riggers’ attack is averaging 14 goals per game and doesn’t look to be slowing down.
3) STOP THE STREAK
In the last meeting between the Rush and Roughnecks, Saskatchewan used a late rally to force overtime. In the extra frame, Zack Greer put one past Mike Poulin and off the post, but received a favourable bounce off of the Necks’ goaltender for the game-winning goal. Since that game, the Rush have not felt the sting of defeat. The Roughnecks know that their division rivals are playing extremely well right now, but so have they. This match-up will be important for both squads as it has playoff implications. Will the Roughnecks be able to end the Rush’s five-game winning streak in Saskatoon?
4) TRACK MEET
While each team boasts extremely talented offences, the eventual outcome could come down to the transition game. The Rush have demonstrated an ability to get up and down the floor quickly in each of the three previous matches against the Roughnecks. Meanwhile, the Roughnecks have been looking to push the pace whenever possible recently and have seen the results of their efforts. Calgary has four short-handed goals in their last four games and 11 goals from their defence and transition players. Speaking of defensive scoring, the Roughnecks and Rush both have quite a few players near or at the top of that list. Saskatchewan’s Ryan Dilks and Calgary’s Dan MacRae are tied for first with 15 points apiece. Chris Corbeil (14 points), Karsen Leung (14 points), Jeff Cornwall (10 points), Jon Harnett (9 points), Brett Mydske (8 points), and Tyson Bell (7 points) have all proven to be dangerous offensive weapons out of the back-end that will play a factor this weekend.
5) THE SIN BIN
The last time the Roughnecks visited Sasktel Centre, it was a physical affair and things got heated. Calgary got themselves into trouble early, with five penalties in the first half, including two consecutive five-minute majors that saw the Rush score four goals. In the second half, the Roughnecks matched their first half total of five penalties, but managed to avoid any majors. Of those five second half penalties, it only resulted in one power play goal, but the Rush still went 6-10 with the man advantage. The Necks will need to stay out of the penalty box if they want to keep the Rush offence in check.
BONUS: With two goals this weekend, Curtis Dickson will hit the 50 goal plateau for the first time in his career! He was two goals shy of that mark last season.