CALGARY, AB — The Calgary Roughnecks venture further west this weekend as they will face the Vancouver Stealth at the Langley Events Centre on Saturday.
This is a crucial match-up between the two teams and though it is still early, will have playoff implications.
The Roughnecks (3-4) sit 0.5 games up on the Stealth (2-4) in the West Division. With a loss, the Riggers would drop into last place, while a win would put them firmly in third place and give them a 2-0 series lead – something that could pay dividends near the end of the season should a tiebreaker be needed.
Coming off of a 13-8 loss to the Colorado Mammoth, the Roughnecks will be hungry to get back into the win column. They had a fast start to their last game, but as momentum swung towards the Mammoth, Calgary could not hang on and fell behind early in the third.
The defeat was upsetting for the players and coaching staff, as they know that they can — and will — be better.
“We’ll be evaluating everything and we have to be better all the way around,” coach Curt Malawsky said. “Collectively offensively we need to need to get better. I promise you that, we’ll be better.”
Added rookie Wesley Berg: “After a loss like this, we’re disappointed and we would like to get right back at it. It’s nice to get back at it against a divisional rival next week and get back up in the standings.”
In the three weeks since each team last saw each other, both have seen some changes to the roster.
Vancouver has signed goaltender Tyler Richards, who had previously retired from the NLL following the 2015 season. This is Richards’ ninth season in the NLL and third in Vancouver. Having issues early this season between the pipes, the Stealth may turn to the veteran netminder on Saturday.
Calgary will be without Dane Dobbie, who missed the last game with an upper-body injury. The Roughnecks’ All-Time leading goal scorer was a difference maker for Calgary’s offence and a leader on the floor. His presence will be missed by his teammates.
“Obviously he’s a big presence out there, his passion, and not a lot needs to be said about how skilled he is and what he brings to the table,” Berg said. “He’ll be missed. We’ve all got to step up and get more shots in.”
The Stealth won’t mind having Dobbie out of the line-up. The lefty was a force in their last game, netting three goals and five assists to lead Roughnecks forwards.
Vancouver played great in Week 7, but were outlasted by the tough Rochester Knighthawks squad 16-15 in overtime. The bulk of the scoring came from Rhys Duch, Logan Schuss (who had nine points last time they faced each other), Corey Small, and Garrett Billings.
They will represent a big challenge for Calgary’s defence. They quartet combined for 30 points in the 15-13 loss to the Roughnecks back on January 30th.
While a tough task, it’s not impossible.
The Roughnecks are coming off of a game where they shut down Callum Crawford, Adam Jones, and John Grant Jr. for most of the first half. They know they have what it takes to stop the Stealth’s offence.
The key will be playing for the full 60-minutes.
“We’ve got to be able to,” assistant captain Dan MacRae said. “We’ve got a lot of young legs. We let up there once we got up four goals before the half and that was a mental lapse.
“We’ve got a big game against Vancouver coming up, so we’re going to take every positive we can out of this and we’re going to use that for next weekend.”