CALGARY, AB – The monkey is finally off their backs.
The Calgary Roughnecks earned their first and long-awaited victory of the 2015 NLL season backed by a seven-goal performance from Curtis Dickson to defeat the Vancouver Stealth 16-13 on Saturday.
“Guys were pretty happy after the game,” said coach Curt Malawsky of the win. “There’s a long, long way to go. It was a lot different, some of the bounces went our way as opposed to some of the overtime games or one goal games where the bounces didn’t go our way.
“We weren’t in panic mode, but our guys definitely knew what was on the line. We had some great performances from guys. It’s nice to get off the schneid, but there’s a long way to go. We know it’s an uphill battle and were going to continue to get better each week.”
While the team is happy about their first win, they realize the road ahead will not be an easy one.
“You get your first win and you get rewarded with Rochester, Edmonton, Rochester,” Malawsky said of the Roughnecks’ daunting upcoming schedule. “I guess that’s the nature of the NLL.
Now, the team must travel into Rochester for a rematch of last year’s Champion’s Cup Finals. With the Riggers’ roster largely unchanged, that memory is likely in the forefront of the player’s minds.
“I’d be lying if I said the guys won’t be thinking about it,” Malawsky said. “They’ll walk in the building and get on the floor a little bit and realize, that was last year and this is this year. If the guys dwell on what happened last year, we’ll be in tough.
“I’d like to think the guys are going to take some extra motivation out of it and help propel the game and bring up their compete level.”
Rochester will be ready for the Roughnecks.
After squeaking past the Buffalo Bandits 13-12 in overtime, the Knighthawks know that they will have to raise their game in order to beat Calgary.
“We’ll bend, but we pride ourselves in not breaking,” said Rochester coach Mike Hasen. “We’ll always keep pushing right to the very end. We did that, had a great fourth quarter, and snuck out with a win.
“It was a big win, but I think we got away with one against Buffalo. We peaked at the right time that game. It’s right back into the fire with Calgary coming to town. Their record is nowhere near the type of team they are and they’re going to come in and compete and we’ve got to try and get to that level.”
Jon Sullivan was part of last season Champion’s Cup winners.
Having been a member of that team, the defenseman knows that they cannot discount the Roughnecks in this game simply because of their record.
“They’re definitely a team that you don’t want to underestimate, regardless of their record,” Sullivan said. “They were a team that was a couple minutes away from winning championship last year. They’re definitely a team were not looking past, we know how hungry they are for wins so we’ve got to show up for this one.”
With a 1-6 record, the Roughnecks remain in last place in the Western Division.
Coach Malawsky recognizes the situation and has provided his players with a simple message to which they seem to be embracing. Take everything one play at a time.
“It’s a whole different season,” Malawsky said. “We’re not looking at the 1-6 record, were not looking at last years championship. We’re looking shift-by-shift, segment-by-segment, quarter-by-quarter, and game-by-game so to speak. I’m sure our guys will be fired up to be out there, but it wont be so much about what happened last year, but more of what we need to get done this year.”
Added Roughnecks defenseman Dan MacRae: “That’s what we’re going to be doing going into Rochester and hopefully we’re going to be racking up win number two. Definitely have some extra motivation going into the barn where we lost a tight one last year.”