CALGARY, AB — This week’s match-up will feature two teams trending in the same direction.
One team will be able to reverse that trend and avoid extending their losing streak.
For the Rochester Knighthawks, they will want to rebound after two straight losses where they scored less than 10 goals in each game. In those contests, they were outscored by 14 goals – which is double what they scored.
The Roughnecks have been bitten by some bad luck and have lost three straight games, with the last two coming in overtime. A four-game losing streak will not be an option for the Necks.
Calgary will need to move past these disappointing losses and focus on the next game, assured captain Mike Carnegie.
“I think we move forward. We’ve had two tough losses,” said a frustrated Carnegie. “I made my point at the start of the season we just have to move on. We can’t dwell on the past, we can’t change anything that’s happened in the past but we can move forward and we can get better.”
Getting better is something that they’ve been doing all season.
A very young team, the Roughnecks have seen rookies Wesley Berg and Reilly O’Connor make big contributions on the offensive end in recent weeks. Still only 24-years old, Tyler Digby has also improved as he becomes more and more comfortable within the offence in Calgary.
On the defensive end, rookies Tyson Bell and Kellen LeClair have also been steady help in their own zone, while each having added a goal.
Unfortunately, those improvements have been stifled a bit by the loss of 40-goal scorer Dane Dobbie who is out with an upper body injury.
“I was proud of the guys. The message was positive,” explained coach Malawsky. “It’s not okay, we lost in overtime again but we are getting better and better. I’ll reiterate, we are a young team and were are without our 40-goal scorer. We had some looks late in the game and I think if [Dobbie] is on the floor I think that might be a goal. And that’s not be belly-aching and whining, that’s a fact.”
The Roughnecks will be without Dobbie and LeClair (serving the second game of a two-game suspension) against the Knighthawks.
In the middle of a four-game road stretch, Rochester is not having a whole lot of fun.
Slow starts doomed the Hawks in both games. First, they allowed the Saskatchewan Rush to score nine goals in the first half en route to a 11-8 loss. Then, the 1-6 Toronto Rock put up 11 goals in the first to beat Rochester.
The Knighthawks must first find a way to stop big runs early in the game. This might be a problem against a Roughnecks squad that has come out strong and built big leads in each of their last two games.
Scoring a few more goals might also be helpful. Currently, the offence revolves around the sticks of Cody Jamieson (13g, 29a) and Dan Dawson (17g, 16a). While these two are off to strong starts, the rest of the offence is lagging behind.
Cory Vitarelli and Stephen Keogh both sit at 17 points through seven games. Averaging less than three points per game, the offence behind Dawson and Jamieson have not been pulling their weight.
Even without their offensive problems, scoring won’t be so easy for the Hawks.
After earning his first start of the 2016 season, Mike Poulin was excellent between the pipes for the Roughnecks in their last game. The veteran netminder stopped 48 shots in a losing effort.
“I thought Mike Poulin played really well for us,” said Carnegie of the goaltender. “I thought he was really good in net, gave us some good minutes. What you want from your goalie is a chance to win and I think Poulie gave us that tonight.”
Poulin currently has the league’s second best save percentage at .792 and third best GAA at 10.92. He knows that this weekend represents a big game for Calgary and that they will need to be even better to come out with the win.
“We have a good Rochester team coming in next week that we need to be a lot better for,” Poulin admitted.