CALGARY, AB — Unfortunately, the Calgary Roughnecks season has come to a close. With a 12-9 loss in Game 2 of the West Final, the Riggers were officially eliminated by the Saskatchewan Rush.
Here are five things we noticed from the season:
It was a big season for Curtis Dickson, who became one of four players in NLL history to score more than 60 goals in a single season.
Those were just a few of his 61 goals, the most ever by a Roughnecks player in a single season. In addition to the goals record, Dickson reached the 100-point plateau (107) for the first time in his career. It was a goal he set for himself after missing that mark by seven points in 2015.
The sixth year forward was the anchor of the Roughnecks offence and routinely gave them big performances. He averaged just under six points per game and even had two sock-tricks (one in Toronto and the other in Georgia).
It was a wildly successful season for Superman and he will be looking for more heading into next season!
The Roughnecks drafted nine players in the 2015 NLL draft and elected to keep five of them on their active roster. It would have been six, but GM Mike Board elected to trade Mitch de Snoo to the Buffalo Bandits prior to the start of the season.
Wesley Berg: Drafted 4th overall, Berg stepped right into the Roughnecks right side and contributed at a high rate, netting 27 goals and 40 assists. Berg finished third on the team in scoring and loose balls, while starting in all 18 games.
Reilly O’Connor: Praised for his intelligence and passing ability, O’Connor showed off both of those traits in his first season. The last of the rookies to score a goal, O’Connor tallied only six goals to go with his 30 assists.
Tyson Bell: A cousin of Billy Dee Smith, it’s no surprise that he brings a nasty edge to his game. Bell was fierce in the defensive end, handing out big hits almost every night. He contributed in transition as well, scoring three goals and six assists. Bell did get out of control a bit, leading the team in penalty minutes with 49.
Kellen LeClair: A complete unknown to most coming into training camp, the 6’4” LeClair made himself known quickly. Big and strong, he likes to throw his body around and use his athleticism to shut guys down. In 12 games played, he scored only one goal, but it was a great shot in transition against the New England Black Wolves.
Overall, the rookies were a big part of the Roughnecks’ success in 2016 and they will be a big part of the team moving forward.
3) PROTECTING THE CREASE
The duo of Frankie Scigliano and Mike Poulin split time once again between the pipes for the Calgary Roughnecks in 2016.
Sicilian opened the season as the starter, but was replaced by Poulin in a 19-12 loss to the Saskatchewan Rush in February. Poulin would start the next two games and not play exceptionally well, causing the Roughnecks to go back to Scigliano for the next two games – both losses.
Poulin would start nine of the final 10 games, missing one due to the birth of his child. In that time, he went 3-4 with a .776 save percentage. He was a revelation for the Riggers, as he was routinely making big saves to keep the Roughnecks in it.
In the playoffs, Poulin was the man against the Colorado Mammoth and he came up big, real big. He made 56 saves in an 11-10 OT win where he was magnificent.
A bit inconsistent, goaltending was not a problem for the Roughnecks in 2016. In fact, it was a major factor in making the playoffs and advancing to the West Division Final.
After losing Andrew McBride to retirement and Jeff Moleski to free agency, the Roughnecks needed to fill those holes. They did that by bringing in rookie Tyson Bell and Kellen LeClair and signing Bob Snider.
After a mid-season injury to Snider, the team added draw-man Tyler Burton to the fold. He assimilated himself quickly by playing hard-nosed defence and scoring three goals in his first three games at the Rough House.
The Riggers defence ranked in the middle of the pack with 216 goals against on the year, which averages out to an even 12 goals per game. At times the defence was suffocating and was able to shut down tough opponents. For example, in the West Division Semi-Final, they were able to shut down John Grant Jr. and Callum Crawford in their big overtime win.
However, they struggled at times with consistency. It was common for the team to begin a half very strong, as shown by their plus 29 ratio in the first and third quarters combined. However, they were a minus 26 when trying to close out a half. Losing all of the momentum in the fourth quarter did not help when they got to overtime, and their 1-4 record in extra time backs that up.
Running the floor became a big part of the Roughnecks game plan throughout the season and it saw the defence contribute significantly in the offensive end. They combined for 34 goals, or 15 percent of the teams’ season totals.
5) SEASON SUCCESS
Not many NLL pundits expected the Roughnecks to be serious contenders in 2016 after watching long-time Roughnecks Andrew McBride and Geoff Snider retire, NLL MVP Shawn Evans get traded to the New England Black Wolves, and veterans Daryl Veltman and Jeff Moleski leave via free agency.
But the Roughnecks didn’t agree with that perception.
The re-tooling worked wonders as the rookies were able to step in and produce immediately, while the veterans stepped up their game, and the newcomers were accepted into the locker room right away.
This tight-knit group wasn’t supposed to make the playoffs, but they did. They weren’t supposed to beat the Colorado Mammoth in the West Semi-Final, but they did.
Despite losing to the Rush in the West Final, this season has been a win for the Roughnecks organization.
The future is bright in Cowtown.