Out of the frying pan and into the fire.
The Roughnecks (3-4) are on the road this weekend and they’re hoping to change things up after losing their last three games at home.
Unfortunately, they’re heading into the Sasktel Centre, a venue where they have never won a game.
And waiting for them there is the division leading Saskatchewan Rush (5-2).
The two teams last squared off on Feb. 4 at the Scotiabank Saddledome in a game that was neck-and-neck until the final quarter. The game started off with an explosion of offence as 11 goals were scored in the first quarter. The game stayed within a goal heading into the fourth quarter, but that’s when the Rush put their foot on the gas and scored six straight to win the game 15-11.
While that contest contained some rough stuff, it was nothing compared to the pre-season bout in Saskatoon that led to multiple suspensions for both clubs.
Calgary Roughnecks Saskatchewan Rush
Frank Scigliano Aaron Bold
Greg Harnett Ben McIntosh
Speaking of suspensions, the Roughnecks remain without defender Greg Harnett as he continues to serve time for his hit on Colorado Mammoth forward Jeremy Noble. His presence in the line-up will be missed.
But while Harnett may be out, a new face is drawing in for the Riggers. Acquired from the Buffalo Bandits on Feb. 22, transition player Mitch Wilde will join Calgary on the road this weekend.
Wilde, just shy of a point per game in his career, is expected to bring tough, physical defence while being able to run the floor and chip in some goals. The Roughnecks have struggled this season to find offence out of the back end and GM Mike Board is hoping that this addition can spark the entire unit.
“Mitch is an athletic defender who can also transition the ball up the floor,” said Board. “We like what he brings to the table. He has shown he can play defence and put the ball in the net. He is a welcome addition to our team.”
Saturday will be Superhero night at Sasktel Centre, so isn’t it fitting that Superman comes to town?
Curtis Dickson has been putting on a show for the fans so far this season. With a league-leading 25 goals through seven games, there’s a good chance that he lights the lamp more than once this weekend.
Wearing Hulk themed jerseys, the Rush offence will be looking to flex their muscle, especially on the powerplay. Led by Robert Church, who has 10 powerplay goals this season, the Rush man advantage has operated at a very strong 60.47%.
A major key for the Roughnecks will be to avoid giving Saskatchewan an opportunities with an extra attacker.
Between the pipes, the Rush has been steady all season, relying heavily on Aaron Bold. The veteran has compiled great statistics, with a 10.50 GAA and a .780 save percentage. For the Roughnecks, Frank Scigliano has seen the majority of the time with rookie Christian Del Bianco getting some aspot action. Scigliano leads the Necks goalies with an 11.74 GAA and a .748 save percentage.
Last weekend, Scigliano had a slow start against the Vancouver Stealth, but rebounded in the second half to allow just three goals down the stretch. Unfortunately, Calgary dug a hole that was just too deep to escape.
Slow starts have been the bane of the Roughnecks in the last two games. If they don’t come out with a strong effort, the Riggers could once again find themselves buried early and that’s not somewhere they want to be.