The Calgary Roughnecks will make their one-and-only trip to Toronto to take on the Rock at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday night.
Calgary captain Andrew McBride said it’s always a thrill for many of his teammates to play in front of their family and friends in Toronto.
“A lot of guys on our team are from Toronto so it’s great to be able to play in front of their home fans,” McBride said. “It’s a tough barn to play in. They’re one of the pinnacle franchises in the NLL and a tough place for us to play. We’ve had a lot of close games and a lot of struggles in there, but it’s always nice when we can get in front of some home fans for our teammates. It’s always a game on our calendar that we look forward to.”
The ’Necks will undoubtedly have to focus on containing Rock forward Josh Sanderson, a former member of the Riggers, who has had a hot start to his season following the tragic news of his father Terry’s passing in November.
“There are lots of connections,” said Calgary general manager Mike Board. “Josh was here. Nick Rose, one of their goalies, was here. Terry Sanderson, who passed away, lots of these guys were coached by Terry and know Terry.”
In order to beat the Rock, Board said that the Roughnecks will have to come out focused right from the opening faceoff on Saturday.
“Toronto’s off to a great start this year, so that makes it even more of a challenge,” Board said. “It’s always a good trip and it’s always a good test on the floor. I guess one of our things is to make sure the guys stay focused for the game and do the visiting afterwards.”
Geoff Snider agreed with Board that the Riggers will have to definitely have to play their best to emerge from the ACC with a victory.
“They’re a team that is scrappy,” said the veteran transition player. “The Air Canada Centre is obviously very famous. There’s a lot of history of lacrosse there. You feel like a pro when you go to Toronto. It’s an environment that you have a lot of respect for. They’re a team that’ll really take advantage of you if you’re not prepared to go in and play there. They’re a motivated group. They’re dangerous and we’re going in there certainly respecting their ability to be a dangerous lacrosse team.”
“I feel very fortunate and blessed to be able to have the opportunity to be with such a great organization,” said Calgary coach Curt Malawsky, who recently signed a multi-year extension to stay on as bench boss with the Roughnecks. “They’re a first-class organization from top to bottom. They treat the players and coaches exceptionally well. In talks with Mike (Board) at the draft and talking things through, I’m very excited to be a part of it. I finished my career in Calgary and won a championship there. There’s no other place I’d rather be. I bleed black and red and that’s my home. They’re my family now. I’m very, very excited to be able to move forward. I’m very thankful they put their trust in myself and the coaches. We’ll continue to work hard and build towards the ultimate goal at the end of the season.”
“He’s the best coach in the league,” said McBride of Malawsky. “He prepares us very well. We’re educated on our game plan from video standpoint to a game-plan standpoint. You want him in this organization. When you have your head coach locked in for a few years you know the rest is going to trickle down and follow down. We’re excited to have him as part of this organization and I know the organization is as well.”
DID YOU KNOW?
Before Toronto’s 13-11 win over the Buffalo Bandits at the Air Canada Centre on Jan. 23, members of the Rock formed a ‘T’ on the floor and had a moment of silence to pay tribute to Terry Sanderson, the former Rock general manager who passed away in November at the age of 62 after suffering a heart attack.
PLAYER PROFILE – #37 Andrew McBride
Height & weight: 6-0, 190
Birthdate: Dec. 9, 1982
Hometown: Ladner, B.C.
Fast fact: Wore #16 during his first three seasons with the Roughnecks before switching to #37.
Stat attack: McBride is the all-time leader for the Roughnecks in both games played in the regular season (183) and the playoffs (25). He’s also racked up a franchise-record 362 penalty minutes in the regular season.
Occupation: Owner of Triumph Lacrosse and Technical Director with the Alberta Lacrosse Association
Family ties: Married to Pam McBride
Notable quotable: “We wanted to go visit schools from elementary to junior high, teach kids the importance about goal setting, eating right, being active, being good community mentors and teach them the wonderful game of lacrosse,” said McBride about Triumph Lacrosse, which is a classroom lacrosse program. “It’s a great experience for the kids. They love it lots and it translates over when they come watch the game. It’s just a great way to introduce them to Canada’s national (summer) sport.”