CALGARY, AB — On Friday, the Calgary Roughnecks are on the road to face the Toronto Rock at Air Canada Centre at 5:00 pm MT.
In their only visit to Toronto last season, the Roughnecks dropped a tight 12-11 decision to the Rock.
Here are 5 things to watch for in the contest:
1) FAST START
The Roughnecks have shown their ability to come out of the gate quickly in the past few weeks. Against the Mammoth, they went up 4-0 early in the second quarter. In Vancouver, they held an 8-4 lead at halftime and extended that lead further in the third quarter. Against the Saskatchewan Rush, they built an 8-5 lead at halftime. Clearly, the Riggers have the offence to put up some big numbers early, but it the first quarter is where they really shine. With 31 first quarter goals, the Roughnecks have the second most goals in the opening frame. It’s not just the offence getting in on it. The defence has also been great out of the gate, allowing only 20 goals in the first quarter, averaging 2 goals per game in the first quarter. Getting out to a fast start against a Toronto team that is coming off of two straight wins could be a big factor for the Roughnecks success.
2) TRANSITION SCORING
Getting offensive production throughout the lineup will be important for Calgary this weekend. The Riggers transition game has chipped in lately with the likes of Tyler Burton, Karsen Leung and more getting on the scoresheet. Even defenceman Dan MacRae, who doesn’t usually produce much offence, has nine points in 10. Having this supplemental offence against Toronto could be a key difference in the final result.
Getting back into the playoff hunt for both Calgary and Toronto will be the driving factor behind what should be a very tough, physical intense battle. For the Rock, they will be trying to keep their momentum going with a third straight victory. The Roughnecks will be trying to halt a four-game losing streak, but have lost three of those four games in dramatic fashion, falling in overtime. Both teams will be hungry for a win and that should bring out the best in everyone. Expect a lot of aggression on both sides of the floor and a very entertaining tilt Friday.
4) THE POULIN WALL
Mike Poulin has been stellar for the Roughnecks over the past few games. The veteran netminder has dazzled between the pipes, making highlight reel saves and keeping opponents top scorers at bay. Despite a 1-3 record, Poulin boasts a 10.35 GAA and a .795 save percentage, both of which are ranked second in the NLL. If Poulin’s strong play continues, he could earn himself a look at a second goaltender of the year award.
5) POWER PLAY
The Roughnecks powerplay has been a deadly weapon on the road this season. They are scoring at a rate of 63.6 percent when in opposing barns. The Roughnecks might want to avoid the penalty box as well, as the Rock have the best home power play until in the NLL, scoring at a 67.7 percent rating. The special teams battle will be one worth watching on Friday night.