CALGARY — With 186 points in 46 combined games against Toronto, Calgary Roughnecks stars Curtis Dickson, Dane Dobbie, and Jeff Shattler and licking their chops as the Rock come to town.
But Dickson (5.08 points/game), Dobbie (4.2 points/game), and Shattler (3.3 points/game) aren’t the only Roughnecks forwards who have enjoyed playing against the Rock.
While it may be a small sample size, Wesley Berg averaged five points per outing in two games as a rookie and fellow righty Tyler Digby has been a pain in the side of the eastern opponents, collecting an average of 3.5 points per game.
Entering the contest, Toronto is 3-1 after dropping the Buffalo Bandits 18-10 last weekend. The offensive surge was powered by 24-year old rookie Tom Schreiber, who netted 10 points in the contest. While the Roughnecks are coming off of a loss to the reigning champions, dropping their record to 3-2.
Schreiber now leads the Rock in points on the season with 23 (6g, 17a) in four games. He is followed by Brett Hickey (10g, 6a), Turner Evans (3g, 13a), and Kasey Biernes (7g, 6a). Toronto’s offence may have gone off last weekend, but they still rank dead last in the NLL with just 51 goals scored through four games.
One of the biggest factors in the Rock’s early season success has been the man protecting the crease. Toronto goaltender Nick Rose has been fantastic, leading the league in goals-against average (8.75) and save percentage (.789%). His work between the pipes, along with a strong defensive unit, has helped the Rock allow a league-low 35 goals against so far this season.
With the Roughnecks trying to rebound from a loss last weekend, running into another hot goalie is not ideal. Last Saturday, Saskatchewan Rush goalie Aaron Bold was excellent in net, making 46 saves on 57 shots.
The last time these two teams faced off at the Rough House, it was an shootout. After 34 goals in 60 minutes, there was no winner. Overtime lasted only four minutes as Berg was able to drive to the net and beat Rose between the legs.[INSERT VIDEO OF BERG GOAL]
In that game, forward Rob Hellyer torched the Riggers for seven goals and five assists. However, he won’t be a factor this weekend as he is currently sidelined with an injury.
The Rock’s only obvious weakness this season is their special teams and the Riggers will look to take advantage of that. Through four games, Toronto has been afforded 22 powerplay opportunities, but have managed just seven goals with the extra man. That’s a league-worst 31.82% on the man-advantage.
On the penalty kill, it doesn’t get much better for Toronto. The one positive is that they’ve only doled out 15 powerplays to opponents. Although, other teams’ PP units have scored on eight of those chances. The 46.67% PK ranks Toronto sixth out of nine clubs in the NLL. That poor penalty killing unit bodes well for a dangerous Calgary powerplay that has converted at a 60% clip this season.