Solid defensive play has helped the Calgary Roughnecks win three of their past six games to get back into playoff contention in the National Lacrosse League.
While offensive players often get most of the credit after wins, Calgary’s defensive unit has done its part to keep the Riggers in games lately.
“I was looking at the stats and in our last six games we’re averaging 10.5 goals against, which would be like top three or four in the league,” said defenceman Jon Harnett. “We had a tough start to the season as a group. Our offence gets a lot of credit where it’s due and our defence, it’s an underrated group. I think teams think that they can come in and walk all over us and that hasn’t been the case for the last six games.”
Harnett also praised the play of goalie Frankie Scigliano, who made 25 saves to backstop the ’Necks to a 14-9 win over Colorado at the Scotiabank Saddledome last Saturday just one night after stopping 42 of 51 shots he faced during a 9-8 overtime setback to the Mammoth in Denver.
“Frankie’s played really well,” Harnett said. “He’s proven himself as a No. 1 goalie in this league.”
Fellow defender Scott Carnegie agreed with Harnett’s assessment of Scigliano.
“I thought Frankie had a better game in Denver and I talked to him about it and he said the same thing,” Carnegie said. “He was seeing the ball awesome in that overtime loss and that win on Saturday was huge.”
In his 13 seasons with the Riggers, captain Andrew McBride has always taken pride in being part of a solid defensive unit and this year is no different.
“We’ve got a lot of big, strong athletic guys back there,” McBride said. “We need to be physical moving forward. We need to continue that. Frankie’s seeing the ball extremely well, playing with a lot of confidence and making the saves that he needs to.”
The Roughnecks (4-10) will face a tough test this weekend in back-to-back games against the Edmonton Rush (9-4). The home-and-home affair will start in Calgary at the ’Dome on Friday (7:30 p.m.) before the two teams make their way up Hwy. 2 for a rematch the next night (7 p.m.) in Edmonton at Rexall Place.
“Edmonton seems to have our number in Calgary at the ’Dome, so we need to take that to heart,” said Harnett, whose squad dropped a 16-8 decision to the Rush at home on Jan. 24. “This is our last home game of the year and the fans deserve a good showing from us.”
Thanks to an overtime goal off the stick of Daryl Veltman, the Riggers rebounded with a 12-11 win over the Rush in Edmonton on March 8.
“We always find a way to play really well in Edmonton, so I think that will be no different,” Harnett said. “We have to play well.”
While the ’Necks will be looking to take care of their own business against the Rush, they’ll be keeping one eye on the scoreboard to keep tabs on how the Vancouver Stealth (4-9) fare in a pair of road games this weekend. The Stealth will face the Toronto Rock on Friday night before battling the New England Black Wolves on Sunday afternoon.
“We’re trying not to think about what Vancouver’s going to do,” Carnegie said. “We obviously know we’re battling with them. If we win our games, we should be in a good spot. You never know, we could need some help. We’ll be looking, but won’t have a close eye on it.”
“We haven’t been able to put two together all season and we’ve identified that,” said Calgary coach Curt Malawsky. “We are going to try to prepare a little differently than we have because what we’ve done in the past hasn’t worked. We’re coming up against a really tough opponent. They made short work of Rochester, played a great game up in Toronto, and they played really well in both games against Vancouver.”
“We’ve had better starts over the last couple games, which has been really important for us,” McBride said. “We’ve started the halves a lot better, so it’s good to see we’re making those adjustments. We’ve got some key games coming down the stretch here. It’s going to be an exciting time that we’ve put ourselves in at least a position to battle for a playoff spot. We just need to battle. We’ve got to show our will, show our determination and come out and play hard.”
DID YOU KNOW?
Scott Carnegie sat out the entire 2014 season due to a torn Achilles tendon. “It happened my first day in training camp – it was just a fluke thing,” said Carnegie, who was surprised with how quickly he healed. “It actually was a pretty quick recovery considering it could have been a lot worse. Those injuries can be up to a year. I was back running after six months. I feel pretty good. I’ve been in tons of rehab and I still work on it and stretch.”
PLAYER PROFILE – #22 Scott Carnegie
Height & weight: 6-1, 170
Birthdate: Dec. 17, 1985
Hometown: London, Ont.
Fast fact: He won three straight championships in 2008 and 2009. After winning a Mann Cup with the Brampton Excelsiors in the summer of 2008, Scott helped the Roughnecks capture their second Champion’s Cup in 2009. Later that same summer, he won yet another Mann Cup title with the Excelsiors. “Back-to-back-to-back, it was a fun time,” he said.
Stat attack: He scored one goal in each of his first four NLL seasons before going goalless in 2012 and 2013. After sitting out the entire 2014 season due to injury, he scored his first NLL goal in four years into an empty net during Calgary’s 14-9 win over Colorado last Saturday. “I’m going to try and double it,” he joked in regards to having a chance to reach the two-goal mark for the first time in his career.
Family ties: Scott is married to Bre and his older brother Mike also plays defence for the Roughnecks.
Notable quotable: “It was a bit of a slow start for me,” he said in regards to returning to the lineup after sitting out last season. “I felt kind of like a rookie going back to training camp, which was interesting. It was great that the organization had faith in me to bring me back. I signed a two-year deal. They showed that they believed in me. It’s slowly been getting better, which I think is a positive because we’re building and starting to play better lacrosse now.”