The Calgary Roughnecks would like to forget about last week.
The Riggers dropped a 15-7 decision to the rival Edmonton Rush on Friday night in front of their home crowd, and although head coach Curt Malawsky admitted Edmonton is a strong team, he felt his club struggled with overcoming adversity and is looking to change that.
“They’re a very good lacrosse team,” he said on Wednesday during the weekly NLL coaches call. “You don’t go 10-0 in the NLL and not be a good team. They came out with a good game plan and we struggled early, they got up on us, and instead of battling back and inching our way back in, we went a different route. We decided to start blaming things on the referees and looking for easy ways out, and if you look for easy ways out you’re never going to come back in a game.
“It was a combination of what Edmonton did and what we didn’t do.”
The Roughnecks (6-5) have a chance to redeem themselves on Friday when they travel to Langley to take on the Vancouver Stealth (3-8) (9 PM MST – YouTube The Lacrosse Network).
Calgary has come out on top both times they have faced Vancouver this season including a seesaw battle on Jan 18. at Scotiabank Saddledome, which saw the home squad come away with a 15-12 victory. The Roughnecks also beat the Stealth 20-9 at home on Feb. 15 in a lopsided match that featured a tired Vancouver squad who travelled from Colorado the night prior.
Malawsky indicated it’s important for his group to get to back to playing the way they were in February when they won four straight games.
“I think that is our big focus going into this weekend [against Vancouver] is to get back to how we can play,” he said. “I know everyone seems to be a bit down on us but two games back we had a four game run and we were playing some real good systematic Lacrosse.
“I know our guys have identified what makes us successful and obviously what doesn’t. That’s what the big challenge will be week is when the adversity comes how are we going to handle it—we handle it one of two ways—last week it wasn’t the correct way, but two games earlier [during] our four-game run it was the right way.”
Roughnecks leading scorer Shawn Evans is also looking to get back on track after being held to just one assist against the Rush last Friday. Evans singled out Edmonton’s ability to pressure the ball leaving limited options on offence but says he’s looking forward to the opportunity of turning things around this week.
“They pressure the ball well and they did a good job at pressuring us and we didn’t do a good job of moving the ball and moving our feet,” the Peterborough, Ontario native said. “Overall, it was a tough game for our team.
“All I can say is we’re ready to get back on the floor this weekend and prove people differently.”
Evans has enjoyed some personal success against the Stealth this season putting up 20 points (7g, 13a) in the two contests. The reigning MVP and 2013 NLL scoring leader currently sits fourth in league scoring (11g, 55a).
The Stealth have struggled to find the win column this season and sit at the bottom of the West Division with a 3-8 record. But, with just seven games remaining, anything can happen and Malawsky isn’t underestimating the importance of divisional matchups.
“I expect our guys to bounce back from last week’s effort—they know the magnitude of this game—and it’s just another opportunity for us to battle against a divisional opponent,” Malawsky said. “Every win in this league is big, especially the divisional games are big.
“We’re pushing down the stretch and everyone is fighting for a playoff spot. We’re all trying to battle our way in—it’s going to be a playoff atmosphere and I don’t expect anyone is going to get anything for free out there and I know our guys are looking forward to it.”