CALGARY, AB — “Starting strong” is a phrase the Calgary Roughnecks have repeated over and over the past couple of weeks.
“Starting [strong] is a really big thing for us,” said Roughnecks’ captain Andrew McBride. “Every guy needs to be more accountable to get us started right off the bat.”
Unfortunately for the Roughnecks, they came out flat in Game 1 of the West Division Final and fell behind by four goals.
Even though the team battled back to tie the game with just over three minutes left, the poor start did them in. The team didn’t have the energy left to complete the comeback and take Game 1.
“We battled hard,” McBride continued. “There were two good teams that were competing to get to the championship. I thought we didn’t start on time and that’s a big thing for us. We need to be accountable coming out of the gate because it’s hard to battle back against a team like that.
“I thought when we did we really tightened up the reins and we were really close at the end. Sometimes when you get behind, you expend a lot of energy trying to chase and come back. I thought it was good effort, a good game, but we are going to look at the film and come back with the last game in our home barn.”
Edmonton holds a 9-1 record when leading at the half this season. The lone loss they suffered with a halftime lead was their second game of the year.
That stresses the importance for Calgary to avoid falling behind early when the two teams square off in Game 2 on Saturday at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
Playing catch-up again isn’t an option.
“Our big thing is starting on time,” said transition player Geoff Snider. “We can’t get down. They play better when they’re ahead. They run hard off of their momentum and they play great when they’ve got a lot of steam. We’ve got to start on time. It’d be nice to get the first goal out of the gates and have them trailing for a part of this series.”
One important factor in getting a quick start — the crowd.
Calgary has talked about how the home fans can provide an edge. They will take any advantage they get against a formidable opponent.
“Our fans are going to excite the guys,” said coach Curt Malawsky. “The fans are going to put some more energy into our guys and we are going to be ready to go. It’s better that we are at the ‘Dome because we love our fans and we owe them a game there.”
Added McBride: “We need to come play in front of our home barn and hopefully our crowd is going to propel us to get going.”