CALGARY, AB — The new year is starting with an old rivalry.

The Calgary Roughnecks host the Vancouver Stealth tonight at the Scotiabank Saddledome at 7 p.m. MT.

April 9, 2016 was the last time the Stealth and Roughnecks met at the Rough House. On Star Wars Night, the Riggers used the force to down their rivals 16-12, backed by a six-point (4g, 2a) effort from Curtis Dickson.

In four meetings throughout the 2016 season, the Stealth were an even match for the Roughnecks as they split a four-game season series at two games apiece. To give more insight, all but the Star Wars Night game were decided by two or fewer goals, with one game needing overtime.

Playing against Vancouver won’t get easier in 2017 as the Stealth added a number of talented players. They added veteran defenceman Peter McFeteridge and John Lintz, from division opponents Calgary and the Saskatchewan Rush, respectively. In adition, they signed face-off specialist Brendan Fowler and offensive dynamo Cory Conway.

Unfortunately for Vancouver, Conway, 60-point forward Garrett Billings, and top draft choice James Rahe are all beginning the season on the Injured Reserve.

On the Roughnecks side of things, there wasn’t nearly as much change. While the team lost Mike Poulin and Peter McFetridge to free agency, they replaced them with lefties Holden Cattoni and Riley Loewen, and defenceman Chad Cummings.

“We have some good additions,” admitted coach Curt Malawsky. “Not to take away from anything we had last year. We have two young guys in net and they’re here to prove themselves and I have lots of faith that they will do that.

“I like what we did on the offensive side bringing in Riley Loewen and Holden Cattoni, he gives us a weapon on the outside.

“When Vaughn Harris gets healthy, he’ll be a good two-way guy and Chad Cummings is a big left-hander who can stop guys in the back-end. We’ve got a real strong practice roster as well, so we think we’re deep all the way around.”

The Roughnecks will have to hope that practice roster is as deep as they think.

After an altercation with the Saskatchewan Rush in the team’s final pre-season game, they will be without Frank Scigliano, Greg Harnett and Garrett McIntosh due to suspension.

With three prominent bodies out of the line-up, the Roughnecks will have to go to the end of the bench to fill out the starting roster. In addition, the team signed goaltender Zach Higgins to a contract to fill in for Scigliano.

After a team practice last night, the team is feeling strong, focused and ready to get the season started on a positive note.

“I think yesterday was a productive day,” stated Malawsky. “We have a good plan going into today. We plan to get a lot done.

“We’re getting better and better and we’re ready for game one.”

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