CALGARY, AB — With the Calgary Roughnecks showing some inconsistency early on this season, captain Mike Carnegie is trying get his group into the right mindset.
The Riggers are coming off a disappointing overtime setback to the Vancouver Stealth, a game which Calgary held a 6-0 lead after the first quarter and an 8-3 lead at the half.
It was a bitter pill to swallow but it’s time to learn and move on.
“I think that one thing we’ve stressed is our emotional level,” Carnegie said. “We need to be more emotional when we play. I think we need to celebrate our successes and move on from the lows of the games. I’ve stressed to the guys the importance of the process.”
After surrendering eight straight goals by the Stealth last weekend and watching their lead evaporate and eventually turn into a deficit, the Roughnecks tallied with just 9 seconds left to send the game into overtime.
A dramatic goal to be sure. But chasing games is not the formula for success.
Carnegie stressed the need for a consistent sense of urgency.
“Play every shift like it’s a tie game and it’s an opportunity to do something great,” Carnegie said about staying in the game until the final whistle. “That’s what I’ve been preaching.”
To help his teammates gain a different perspective, the captain is taking his entire squad to visit the Alberta Children’s Hospital to visit with some kids who are fighting life-threatening diseases.
The team made a visit to the hospital last season before playing a Sunday game in Edmonton, where they beat the Rush in dramatic fashion, 12-11 in overtime.
“I think it’s just great to get away from the game a little bit,” admitted Carnegie. “It’s always business, business, business on the weekend, so this gives us a chance to do something different and go be with the community that supports us. It’s an eye-opening experience for a lot of the guys. It can help centre you and bring you back down to earth and help you realize how lucky we are to play the sport we love.”
In a somewhat quiet move, the Roughnecks signed Tyler Burton to their practice squad on Feb. 19.
Burton, in his sixth NLL season, spent four years with the Rochester Knighthawks and one season with the Vancouver Stealth prior to joining Calgary.
The right-handed defenceman brings a great deal of playoff and championship experience, as he was part of the Knighthawks back-to-back-to-back championships from 2012 to 2014.
On top of the NLL titles, the London, ON, native helped the Victoria Shamrocks capture the Mann Cup this past summer along with Roughnecks’ Karsen Leung, Greg Harnett, Jon Harnett, and Dan MacRae.
He also brings depth on the back-end and an ability to take face-offs. Burton managed to win 195 of his 521 career faceoffs, which could be a factor in Burton earning playing time for the Roughnecks.
Sunday games have become a rarity at the Rough House in recent years and this weekend’s game will be the first Roughnecks Sunday home game since 2010, a year that featured three Sunday games at Scotiabank Saddledome.
This Sunday marks the 16th Sunday game the Roughnecks have played since April 2005, when they dominated the Toronto Rock 20-12.
Calgary holds a 12-3 record in Sunday games and they have a slight advantage in record when playing away from the ‘Dome (7-1 on the road vs. 5-2 at home).
After going 4-3 in their first seven Sunday games, the Roughnecks have rallied off eight straight wins on Sundays.
Trying to extend the streak this weekend, the Roughnecks are presented with the tough task of taking down the Saskatchewan Rush — a team that is 33-9 since the start of the 2014 season.
Of those nine wins, the Riggers have accounted for one third of them, with one of those wins coming on a Sunday.