CALGARY, AB — The sin bin was a familiar place for the Calgary Roughnecks last season.
The Roughnecks played a man down 101 times during the 2015 season, the most of any team in the National Lacrosse League.
Geoff Snider, Shawn Evans, and Andrew McBride were three of the main culprits when it came to racking up the penalty minutes. Snider was the team leader in the category with 42. Not far behind with 39 was star forward Evans. McBride, a touch more disciplined, had a healthy 25 minutes to his name.
Along with Jeff Moleski (6), Travis Cornwall (4), and Daryl Veltman (0) as members of the Roughnecks that are no longer on the roster, they make up 116, or 32 percent of the team’s 360 total penalty minutes.
Although the team led the league in times shorthanded, they managed to stop opposing offences at a rate of 64.36 percent, tops amongst NLL special teams’ units.
With the Harnett’s, the Carnegie’s, Dan MacRae, and Curtis Manning still in place on the back-end, there is no reason to assume that the penalty kill unit should be any different in 2016.
And although it may seem that the Roughnecks can significantly reduce the number of penalties taken with the departure of these players, it only provides a partial view of the situation.
Players like Tyler Digby, Wesley Berg, Reilly O’Connor, and Mitch de Snoo will be thrust into big roles with the Roughnecks and will accrue penalty minutes throughout the season.
They’ll hope to do it at a slower rate, though.
Based on his 2015 campaign, Digby is a very disciplined forward. He registered only nine penalty minutes in 18 games with the Vancouver Stealth. Further, in 2014, he managed only 12 in a full slate of games.
While they do not have any NLL experience, rookie forwards Berg and O’Connor were both able to avoid the penalty box when playing among NLLers in the Major Series Lacrosse League.
Berg played in only seven contests with the Oakville Rock in the regular season, but played another eight games in the MSL playoffs. He steered clear of the sin bin in all seven regular season games, but he was caught once for two minutes in the playoffs.
O’Connor appeared in nine games this summer and was penalized for nine minutes.
In 13 games with the Rock, de Snoo had only 12 penalty minutes, a drastic improvement from his rookie MSL campaign that saw him on the hook for 45 minutes. His ability to improve his discipline from year to year and stay out of the box is a good sign as he moves forward into the NLL.
With those four being quite disciplined, it is possible that the Roughnecks find themselves on the PK a few times less in 2016.
One x-factor could be Garrett McIntosh who recorded 35 penalty minutes in only 10 games in 2015. McIntosh could be an important player as he could be taking face-offs — he was 24 of 61 in 2015 — and playing consistent minutes on the back-end.
He will need to limit his penalties to maximize his contributions to the team.
Overall, with plenty of penalty minutes leaving the line-up and being replaced by much lower numbers, it is possible that the team could find themselves near the bottom of the league in times short-handed – which would be a huge improvement year over year.