CALGARY, AB — The first weekend of the season did not go as expected (or hoped) for the Calgary Roughnecks.
After goaltender Christian Del Bianco was roughed up early, the Roughnecks had to play catch up for most of the contest and came within inches of tying the game. While disappointing, there was plenty to be positive about and to like about the Roughnecks team in 2017.
Here’s some things I took away from the home opener:
1) Wesley Berg is Dangerous
Strong, fast, great outside shot, the ability to score crazy goals…reminds you of another star Roughnecks player? It should. Wesley Berg showed in the season opener that he is ready to be a top scorer on the Roughnecks and in the NLL.
After a Tyson Bell goal was reversed, Berg scored the first two official goals of the game for Calgary and would later score again to complete the hat-trick.
Check out the patience and skill he used to score this goal:
2) Great Night for the Kid
It’s not often that a player makes his debut with his hometown team, in the home opener, in front of family and friends, and scores their very first goal. Put simply, it was a special night for Holden Cattoni.
Ideally, Cattoni would have scored on his first shift, on his first shot, but things didn’t play out that way. It took him until midway through the second quarter to find the back of the net – and he did so in spectacular fashion.
It will be the first of many, I’m sure. Congratulations, kid!
3) Clutch Down The Stretch
Can it really be considered clutch if they couldn’t complete the comeback? You bet it’s clutch. Having given up a goal to put the team behind 12-7, it seemed like it would be nearly impossible to tie the game, but the Roughnecks did not lose hope and showed their heart as they made their comeback bid.
To start things off, the defence got into the action as Dan MacRae bounced one ??????? Tyler Richards in transition. Then, Jeff Shattler worked hard on the boards to steal the ball and go to the net. With time dwindling down, the Riggers used the extra-attacker to their advantage as Tyler Digby and Wesley Berg.
To be able to hold the opponent scoreless for over 11 minutes at the end of the game, dominate time of possession and come a post and a bobbled ball away from a tie game, that’s clutch.
If the team can get better starts and play like that down the stretch, they’ll be able to close out a lot of games this season.
4) Holy Higgins
After replacing Del Bianco early in the second quarter, Higgins was spectacular between the pipes for the Roughnecks. In those three quarters, the veteran net minder made 34 saves, highlighted by a great save on a wide open breakaway chance from sniper Rhys Duch.
Higgins’ presence in the net and timely saves seemed to spark the Riggers, who were slow out of the gate. He made save after save after save to keep Calgary within striking distance. With his fantastic performance, their may have been no valiant comeback attempt from the home team.
Unfortunately for Higgins, it’s not likely that he will get the start this weekend in Vancouver as Frank Scigliano returns from his one-game suspension.
5) Special Teams
In 2016, the Roughnecks were quite successful on special teams, scoring on 52.75% of their power play opportunities and only allowing goals on 47.31% of their penalty kills. With their core special teamers all returning, they are hoping for similar success in 2017.
In Calgary’s home opener, the Riggers were forced to kill a penalty on five separate occasions. After a Jon Harnett hooking call, the Stealth power play would go to work.
Not the start they were looking for.
But the Roughnecks rebounded from that and allowed only one more power play goal in four chances, giving them a 60 percent penalty kill percentage.
On the flip side, Calgary’s power play didn’t get on the board until late in the fourth quarter. That was in part due to the fact that Vancouver awarded the Riggers only two man advantages throughout the entire contest.
The Roughnecks ended with a 50 percent rate on the PP and will look to build upon that mark in Langley, BC, this weekend.
Haven’t downloaded the Roughnecks Mobile App yet? Get it now to get instant access to awesome content, great videos, stats, and more!
Download for IOS or Android today.