CALGARY, AB — While the overall look of the 2017 Calgary Roughnecks roster didn’t see many changes, the left side of the offence is a different story.
Jeff Shattler and Dane Dobbie remain staples of the Roughnecks left side, but the team made a point to address the depth behind the two veterans.
Key Losses: Reilly O’Connor
Key Additions: Riley Loewen, Holden Cattoni
In 2016, it was rookie Reilly O’Connor who was the third lefty off the bench with Tyler Melnyk and Brandon Goodwin making appearances after an injury to Dobbie midseason.
Trying to find ways to get better, the Roughnecks made a deal with the Saskatchewan Rush to acquire the hard-working Riley Loewen. They also made the decision to add local product and lefty Holden Cattoni with the fifth overall selection in the NLL Draft.
With five quality lefties on the roster, Calgary’s brass opted to move O’Connor out east and traded him to the New England Black Wolves for a second round selection in 2017.
Heading into the season, the Riggers will hold four lefties on the active roster.
Leading the group is alternate captain, Dane Dobbie. He was playing very well at the beginning of the season, but fell victim to an injury that caused him to lose five games and the Roughnecks felt the pinch offensively without their star lefty in the line-up.
After he returned, it was as if nothing had happened. Dobbie stepped seamlessly back into the line-up and finished the regular season with 26 goals and 60 points. That would have put the sniper on pace for 80-plus points and one of his best seasons ever.
Speaking of a career year, former NLL MVP Jeff Shattler did just that in 2016. Just as Dobbie had elevated his game, Shattler did the same and managed to rack up a career-high 87 points (30g, 57a), with 43 of those points coming in the last seven games of the regular season.
Coming over from the Rush, Riley Loewen brings with him some winning pedigree after winning back to back Champion’s Cups with Saskatchewan and Edmonton. While not a hugely productive scorer over his NLL career, Loewen brings a tough, hard-working, grinding style of play to the floor. Adding someone who can play extremely well off-ball will be big for the left side as they did not have that same presence last season.
In 41 career games in the NLL, Loewen has accumulated 27 goals and 84 points to go along with 93 loose balls. If he can continue to average above two points per game and work hard on the loose balls, the Roughnecks will have a very valuable player on their hands.
Rounding out the unit is rookie phenom Holden Cattoni. He is widely known in the lacrosse community in Calgary as he was born here and played his youth lacrosse in the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse League.
Over the past two summers, Cattoni has spent time playing with the Peterborough Lakers of the Major Series Lacrosse league and learning under the tutelage of former Roughnecks captain Tracey Kelusky. With the Lakers in 2016, Cattoni recorded 16 goals and 15 assists playing behind John Grant Jr., Adam Jones and Cory Vitarelli.
His ability to come off of the bench and be a role player gives him a great chance to contribute right away for the Riggers. The youngster is strong on the ball and likes to use his big shot from the outside to do his damage. Cattoni’s shot was on display during the pre-season as he found the net multiple times.
Ultimately, the biggest difference between this year’s unit and the one from a year ago is depth. With all of the bodies healthy to start the year, if they can remain that way, they will be a very strong unit with a mix of feeders, shooters and grinders. Look for more from the Roughnecks left side in 2017.