CALGARY, AB — The Calgary Roughnecks (0-2) are on the road to battle the New England Black Wolves (1-0) in their home opener at the Mohegan Sun Arena on Friday.
The Riggers are coming off of a second-straight late game collapse, losing 10-9 to the Buffalo Bandits in Week 2. The loss was tough for the new-look Roughnecks, but they still have plenty of hope and positivity going forward.
“The game didn’t turn out the way we wanted it to, but I think things will pick up here,” said Bob Snider. “We’re keeping each other accountable, working hard during the week, and everybody is supporting each other.”
Last weekend, the Vancouver Stealth were victims of the new high-powered Black Wolves offence. New England was strong in their season debut, dropping 17 goals on the Stealth.
New additions Kevin Crowley and NLL MVP Shawn Evans were big factors in the Black Wolves success. The righties combined for five goals and 11 points in the game. Although the new guys had great games, it was fifth-year man Pat Saunders who led the way with four goals and eight points.
Heading into Friday’s game, it will be the first time since 2011 that the Roughnecks will play against Evans.
It will be an interesting experience for forward Curtis Dickson, who’s been partners with Evans for almost his entire professional career.
“It’s going to be weird,” Dickson said. “The last four years, whether NLL, summer ball, Team Canada, it seemed like I couldn’t get rid of the guy. Now unfortunately we traded him away to New England and it’s going to be a little different to play against him.”
Dickson recognized that Evans was a phenomenal lacrosse player and it will be a task to stop him defensively.
The Roughnecks defence that has allowed only 10 goals in each of the first two games will have their hands full.
“He’s a fantastic lacrosse player, so you can game plan for him all you want, but as you saw last weekend, he put in like four goals,” Dickson said. “He’s great at what he does. We’re going to have to come out ready to try and shut him down.”
In 2015, the Black Wolves and Roughnecks met only once, with the Riggers playing the host. The Roughnecks won that contest 20-9, their biggest win of the season.
Dickson and Evans both had 11 points in the Roughnecks rout, and Dane Dobbie recorded seven points and Jeff Shattler added five.
With Evans no longer a part of the Roughnecks offence, there has been a great deal of change in Calgary.
Adding Wesley Berg, Reilly O’Connor, and Tyler Digby — a Black Wolves player for about a minute — the Riggers have experienced some growing pains early in the season. However, they’ve also shown some flashes of brilliance.
If Calgary’s offence can find it’s rhythm this weekend, New England’s defence will be in for a rough night.
“Our offence, we’ve had our chances to score, we’ve had some unlucky bounces and ran into some hot goaltending, so we’re not to worried,” Dickson said. “We know the ball will start dropping for us, we’ve just got to keep doing what we’re doing. We’re a relatively new offence with the fresh faces here so we’re going to start gelling here pretty quick and the ball will start dropping for us.”
The Black Wolves will also have to deal with a hungry Roughnecks squad that does not want to go down the same road as it did last season.
They want that first win as soon as possible.
“It’s the same situation as last season,” said Dickson. “We don’t want to get too deep into the season here, we don’t want to go 0-6 again. We’re going to look to turn things around pretty quickly.”