CALGARY ROUGHNECKS (4-8) vs. SASKATCHEWAN RUSH (7-3)
WHEN: Friday, March 24 at 7:30 p.m. MT
WHERE: Sasktel Centre (Saskatoon, SA)
SERIES: Saskatchewan leads 2-0
LAST MEETING: Saskatchewan won, 12-11, in Saskatoon on Feb. 25
Winless in Saskatoon, a desperate Roughnecks team will be ready for a war as they look to climb out of the basement.
The Rush are 7-1 in their last eight games, having lost to the Vancouver Stealth on March 4 by a score of 13-9. Meanwhile, Calgary enters the contest on the heels of two losses to the Toronto Rock and the Georgia Swarm on the road.
With Saskatchewan and Calgary at the top and bottom of the West Division, respectively, the Roughnecks are badly in need of a win to help them climb the rankings. But don’t expect the Rush to back down from a fight — just look at what happened in the pre-season.
On how to gain success: “We’ve got to keep sticking to what we do when we’re playing well. Offensively, that’s moving the ball and moving our feet and getting through the middle and playing sound defensively,” said forward Wesley Berg. “That’s what we’ve got to bring. We’ve got to steal one it Sask and then come home and that’s a big one for us at home for Tracy Kelusky Night.”
On message from coaching staff after loss to Swarm: “The message was that it’s not like it was anything we did terribly or anything that stuck out that we did that lost us this game,” Berg said. “It’s just the little things that we’ve been doing that haven’t been winning us games and some timely calls that didn’t go our way and that ended up in the back of our net at crucial times.”
“Pretty frustrating this game and we weren’t able to claw our way back.”
On another tough loss: “Things just seem to be snowballing a little bit on us,” admitted coach Curt Malawsky. “When we get down, our effort is phenomenal. It just seems that there’s lapses in the game and when we do have a lapse or there’s a bad call against us, it just seems to turn into two-three goals real quick. We’re doing everything we can to try to control that momentum and value the ball and take the air out of it.”
On finding a way out of a slump: “When you’re in a losing streak, you’ve got to make your own breaks and that’s what we’ve got to continue to do,” Malawsky said. “We’ve got to continue to make our breaks and battle and play the games that are in front of you.”
On the adjustments needed: “We just need to be more consistent on offence, simple as that,” stated Malawsky. “We have two good shifts and then maybe three bad ones and then two good shifts and three bad ones. The problem with that is that three bad shifts and they end up putting the ball in the net the other way and then it gets tough.”
On the team’s work ethic: “It’s not a lack of effort,” said Malawsky. “The knees are bloody. The compete is there. They’re proud guys. We just have to focus a little bit on our execution and stay the course.”
Curtis Dickson, 36g, 32a
Mark Matthews, 22g, 44a
Frank Scigliano, .753 SV%, 12.49 GAA
Aaron Bold, .765 SV%, 10.84 GAA
KEY PLAYERS TO WATCH:
CGY – Wesley Berg
In both games against the Rush this season, Wesley Berg has scored six or more points against a stout Saskatchewan defence. His five goals and eight assists leads the way for Roughnecks forwards and should once again be a player to watch on Friday. The Rush tend to put most of their focus on stopping Curtis Dickson (for good reason), which will open up lanes for Berg to go to work.
SAS – Ben McIntosh
Not only is he the brother of Roughneck Garrett McIntosh, but he is also a thorn in the side of the Riggers team. He is not always the highest scoring Rush player, but his quick-stick ability on the powerplay, his hard shooting, and strong off-ball play makes him a pain to play against. In two games against Calgary this season, McIntosh has scored six goals and three assists.
Calgary is 26-16 all-time against the Rush franchise, with a 16-7 record in the opponents arena.
KEY TO THE GAME:
A complete, 60-minute effort. Last time the Roughnecks were in Saskatoon, they held a lead for the majority of the game before falling behind late. After tying the game and forcing overtime, a small mistake was all it took for Adam Jones to score the game-winner. The game fell apart for the Roughnecks when they began to take penalties in the second half. If they can remain poised throughout the game and stick with their systems, it is very possible for them to escape Toon Town with a win.