CALGARY, AB — On Friday, the Calgary Roughnecks took to WinSport for medical and fitness testing.
While not the most glamorous of ways to being training camp, it is a necessary process.
And for some, especially the rookies, it was a day filled with nerves and anxiety over what was to come.
“I’m not as nervous as I was last year. I’m still a bit nervous this year,” admitted second year player Tyson Roe. “Last year I was coming in not knowing what to expect, not knowing what the guys would be like, I didn’t know what kind of drills we would be doing, how hard we would be going, how long they were going to be. This year I’ve got an idea on that.”
With testing in the rear-view mirror, the team took to the Crescent Point Regional Field House in Okotoks, AB, on Saturday for their first team practice.
For many of the Roughnecks who don’t play summer lacrosse, it had been a long time coming to get back on the floor.
“It’s good to be back,” said Scott Carnegie. “Not playing summer ball the last couple of years, it’s good to be back. Feeling good.”
“It’s a great feeling being back on the floor,” added Frankie Scigliano. “There’s a bitter taste in your mouth from last year, so it’s a great feeling to be back on the turf.”
There was a different feeling at training camp without the likes of Andrew McBride, Shawn Evans, Daryl Veltman, and others.
While those players would be missed, the team had to move on and create a new identity.
“We miss those guys because they are quality guys, they’re good people, they’re character guys,” said Roughnecks coach Curt Malawsky. “That parts tough. You look around and don’t see them out there and it’s a different era.”
“It’s definitely a different feel,” noted Mike Carnegie. “There are a lot of young kids and new faces, but it’s a chance for the guys who have been around and not played as much to get a chance to fill a role and for the young kids to step in. Team’s have to change and we’re going though it now.”
Those departures, whether retirement, free agency, or trade, have opened up spots on the roster for some younger players.
“I say with change comes opportunity,” said Malawsky. “When you make changes, there are opportunities for other guys and they are embracing it. They’re excited. It’s a young camp this year and guys are flying up and down the floor.”
That youth was on full display this weekend as top picks Wesley Berg and Reilly O’Connor consistently found the back of the net.
Their success will bode well for the Roughnecks.
“Obviously, Wesley Berg is putting the ball in the net like I thought that he would,” Malawsky said. “Reilly O’Connor is a very intelligent player. I think all of them are living up to expectations.”
On the defensive side of the ball, rookies Kellen LeClair, Mitch de Snoo, and Tyson Bell all impressed their veteran teammates.
“The three on D that I’ve noticed are de Snoo, Bell, and LeClair,” said Mike Carnegie. “They’re big and strong and each brings something different, which I like. I like everyone that we got.”
Bell in particular was able to match-up against them in drills and even got the better of them more than once with some nice face dodges.
“It felt good,” he said. “Getting matched up with some pretty good defenders like the Carnegies and the Harnetts. That’s kind of my style of play. Get the ball and take advantage of it if it’s there or swing it around.”
Roughnecks training camp will resume next weekend in Vancouver where they will scrimmage against the Colorado Mammoth at the Langley Events Centre.