CALGARY, AB – The Calgary Roughnecks and Toronto Rock are on decidedly different paths to begin the season.
The Roughnecks have slumped out of the gate to a 0-3 record, while Toronto leads the East Division with a 3-1 record.
“Obviously 0-3 is not where we wanted to start things out, but I think we’ve got what we deserved,” Roughnecks GM Mike Board said. “I don’t think we’ve been as good as we can be. We’ve got some things to tidy up before we go in for a tough game against Toronto this weekend.”
Calgary heads to Toronto on Jan. 31 for the first of two match-ups against the Rock.
Last season, the two teams split their season series one game apiece. Toronto beat the Roughnecks 16-11 at Air Canada Centre in their home opener, while Calgary bettered the Rock 19-13 at Scotiabank Saddledome on March 1st.
Both Toronto and Calgary are coming off Week four losses.
In a very defensive effort, the Rock fell to the Rochester Knighthawks 8-6.
“It was one of our best efforts of the season,” Toronto coach John Lovell said. “It wasn’t the result that we wanted, but our guys played hard and gave ourselves a chance to win. At the end of the day, we just couldn’t get it done.“
The Roughnecks dropped the ‘Battle of Alberta’ matchup against the Edmonton Rush 16-8. Mark Matthews (3g, 5a) and rookie Ben McIntosh (2g, 5a) powered the Rush offence.
Calgary has allowed 48 goals through three games this season and will need to clean up the defence aspects of their game against the Rock.
“We’ve just got to tighten some things up on the back-end,” Board said. “We showed stretches where we’ve been very good, much like the start of the Edmonton game.
“It sounds cliché, but we need more attention to detail and a full 60-minute effort from our guys.”
Now, the two teams will go head-to-head at the ACC.
They know how important this game is this early in the season.
“It’s a tough building to play in and we’re looking forward to the challenge,” Board said. “It’s one of those ones that you mark on your calendar and say ‘This is the Toronto weekend’”
The Rock understand playing a team with their back against the wall.
Toronto dealt with a hungry Knighthawks team last weekend and will be expecting a similar ferocity from a Calgary team that is desperate for a win.
“I believe Calgary is still one of the best teams [in the NLL],” Lovell said.
“We know it’s going to be very difficult and as much as they are 0-3, we are always worried about that so-called wounded animal coming into your building here and they need to win badly.
“So we know they’ll be putting their best foot forward and we have to be ready.”
Since 2006, only four teams have started their seasons 0-4.
The Buffalo Bandits, the Colorado Mammoth and the Rock all overcame the 0-4 start to make the playoffs. However, Edmonton went 0-4 to start the 2011 season and finished in last place with a 5-11 record.
So while it is possible to make the playoffs after starting 0-4, Calgary would rather not test their luck.
“We’ve got to be ready to leave everything on the line and get our first win,” forward Shawn Evans said.