The Calgary Roughnecks find themselves in a situation they’ve only faced four times before in their 14-year franchise history.
After losing their first two games of the 2015 NLL campaign, the Riggers are tied at 0-2 with the Edmonton Rush, which just happens to be the team they’ll face on Saturday night (7 p.m.) at the Scotiabank Saddledome during Super Hero Night, presented by Pete the Plumber.
“I think everything’s got to be evaluated,” said Calgary head coach and assistant general manager Curt Malawsky, who signed a multi-year contract extension on Wednesday. “When you start the season 0-2, if you’re kind of leaving things the way they are, you’re going to get the same result.”
The ’Necks also started their inaugural season in 2002 with two straight losses before winning four of their next five games. In 2005, 2008 and 2013, the Riggers also started 0-2 before rebounding with wins in each season respectively.
Malawsky and his coaching staff have been working hard to make sure that history does repeat itself and that the Roughnecks don’t start off with three straight setbacks for the first time ever.
“Edmonton is going to be a real hungry team as well as we are,” Malawsky said. “Reality is, someone is going to be 0-3. They are going to be fighting tooth and nail not to be that team, as we are. Every game is a challenge, every game is a battle, and last we played them, they pretty much embarrassed us in front of our home crowd (during an 11-3 pre-season setback at the ’Dome on Dec. 20). Our focus is going to be on our room and our guys getting prepared. I think we can’t be more excited to get back at it after the way the season has started for us.”
Calgary’s leading scorer Shawn Evans said he and his teammates will have to adopt a must-win mentality in order to beat the Rush, which finished with an impressive 16-2 record in the regular season last year.
“We have to have our backs against the wall every game,” said Evans, who scored five goals and set up five others the last time the Riggers played when they fell 17-16 to the Colorado Mammoth on the road in Denver on Jan. 10. “Edmonton’s a good team. We have to come ready and we have to come with the same intensity and work them and capitalize on our chances.”
“We’re going to have to make some adjustments whether it be systems or whether it be the lineup, but everything will be evaluated,” said Malawsky, who added that the bye week couldn’t have come at a better time. “I think there’s some guys that need to get shape. In this league, it’s fast. If you’re not in great shape, it doesn’t enable you to play 60 minutes and you make mistakes mentally. We made a lot of mental errors (against Colorado). A lot of our experienced guys that normally don’t do that made errors. It’s uncharacteristic of them, but we’re in the position we’re in and we have no one else to blame but ourselves.”
“Over the last year, it’s really turned into a great rivalry,” said Calgary captain Andrew McBride in regards to the Battle of Alberta against the Edmonton Rush. “They’ve got a lot of hate on for us. It’s a rivalry that’s really competitive. It’s really engrossed the province and put lacrosse at the front of the pedestal, which is great. It’s going to be a tough matchup. They’re a motivated group being 0-2 and also not having their head coach Derek Keenan there. We know it’s going to be tough and no one wants to go 0-3.”
DID YOU KNOW?
Despite going 1-3 in the regular season against the Rush last year, the Roughnecks boast an all-time record of 24-8 (9-5 at home and 15-3 on the road) against their provincial rivals, not including post-season games. The Riggers lost three straight games to the Rush last season before rebounding with a 14-3 overtime win in Edmonton at Rexall Place on April 19. Less than one month later in playoff action, the ’Necks punched their ticket to the 2014 Champion’s Cup final series by virtue of a 2-1 win in a 10-minute tiebreaker game against the Rush on May 16 in Edmonton. The Rush, which lost Game 1 of the West Final 12-11 in overtime in Calgary on May 10, forced the mini-game after edging the Roughnecks 15-13 in Game 2 at home six days later.
PLAYER PROFILE – #4 Geoff Snider
Height & weight: 5-10, 200
Birthdate: April 2, 1981
Fast fact: Snider has won a pair of World Lacrosse Championship titles in 2006 and again this past year when Canada beat Team USA 8-5 in the tournament final in Denver on July 19. Roughnecks forward Curtis Dickson was a teammate of Snider’s during Team Canada’s most recent championship victory.
Stat attack: During his nine-year career so far, Snider has won 2261 faceoffs, which is an all-time NLL record. He also sits third all-time in loose balls collected (1768) and second in penalty minutes (542). In addition, Snider holds the record for the fastest goal to start a game when he scored at the five-second mark against the Buffalo Bandits on Jan. 26, 2008 when he was still a member of the Philadelphia Wings.
Occupation: President and founder of Elev8 Lacrosse
Family ties: Younger brother Bob plays for the Colorado Mammoth and is vice-president of operations and director of player development with Elev8 Lacrosse
Notable quotable: “We are working with the committed players in Calgary helping them achieve their goals as student-athletes,” said Snider of why he founded Elev8 Lacrosse. “We spend a lot of time working with kids, guiding them on what it means to be a good citizen, what it means to be a good student and what it means to be a good athlete. A big part of that is obviously driven towards NCAA and opportunities, but we do it in all our programs – we talk about what it means to be a citizen in the community.”