OKOTOKS, AB — It’s safe to say that Tyson Roe made an big impression during his first training-camp stint with the Calgary Roughnecks.
“What is he, 6-foot-10,” asked veteran forward Shawn Evans last Saturday at the Foothills-Okotoks Regional Field House where the Roughnecks held three on-field sessions during the first weekend of training camp. “I think I’m 5-foot-7, maybe 5-foot-6, so he’s a foot taller than me.”
Due to his hulking figure, Roe was easy to spot among the 33 players vying to lock down of 20 roster spots with the ’Necks, but the 250-pound defenceman also showed that he can get up and down the field quickly for a big man.
“They were doing a couple flow drills and I’m like, ‘Wow, he doesn’t move like a guy who’s 6-foot-10’,” said Calgary coach Curt Malawsky. “You figured he’d be a little more awkward and gangly, but he actually strides really well and he uses his reach really well around the net. The challenge will be how his footwork will be in close in the game and how he can do in the two-man game and how he plays the off-ball defence.”
Whether or not Roe can do enough to crack Calgary’s roster heading into the 2015 National Lacrosse League season remains to be seen.
“He’s got all the physical attributes to be a good NLL player,” Malawsky said. “It might just be some experience that he needs to gather over the next little bit here or the next season. He has a good opportunity – just as good as anybody else.”
Roe and the Riggers will reconvene for the second weekend of training camp on Friday at the Toronto Rock Athletic Centre (TRAC) in Oakville, Ont. The weekend will include a pair of scrimmages against the Toronto Rock on Saturday night at 6 p.m. and the following day against the Minnesota Swarm at noon.
“It’ll prepare me even more for hopefully the season if I make it there,” said Roe, who put up three goals and five assists in 16 games during his first full season of Senior ‘A’ ball with the Nanaimo Timberman of the Western Lacrosse Association this past summer. “Mental preparation is just as important as physical. You’ve got to get it in your head that this is the real deal and everyone’s fighting for a job, so you’ve got to really focus. I feel like I’ve done that, so hopefully I can make the team … crack the roster.”
The native of Duncan, B.C. has been eagerly anticipating his opportunity to suit up for the Roughnecks for quite some time.
“When I was younger, I went to provincials and I won a Calgary jersey signed by I can’t remember who,” said Roe, whose coach in Nanaimo was Kaleb Toth who helped the Riggers win a pair of NLL titles in 2004 and 2009. “Ever since then, I’ve been a Calgary fan. Actually, Kaleb was my favourite player growing up.”
Shortly after Calgary selected him in the second round, 16th overall, of the 2014 NLL Draft, Roe received a congratulatory text from Toth, who recently accepted a job as an assistant coach with the NLL’s Vancouver Stealth.
Toth also texted the following advice to Roe: “Make sure you’re in shape. Curt likes his guys in shape.”
According veteran defenceman Andrew McBride, Roe heeded Toth’s recommendation.
“I heard he did really well in all of his fitness testing so you can see his physical attributes,” McBride said. “He’s going to be a guy that’s battling for a spot. He’s a big, physical guy. He walks through and I look up and say ‘Whoa, you’re a big guy.’
“The veterans will do as much as we can to help him out,” continued the Calgary captain. “I remember my first couple of training camps. It’s a very nerve-racking experience. You don’t want to let anyone down and you want to fit in, so our veteran guys will do whatever we can to make him fit in and get into the swing of things.”
That type of encouragement has only served to help Roe out during his first training camp with the Roughnecks.
“They’ve been super supportive,” he said. “I couldn’t ask for a better group of guys.”
Fans could get their first glimpse of Roe in action on Dec. 20 at the Scotiabank Saddledome when the Riggers host the Edmonton Rush in a pre-season game (7 p.m.) as part of the Calgary Roughnecks Showcase Weekend.
The ’Necks will then open the 2015 NLL season at home at the ’Dome on Jan. 3 when they host the Stealth.