CALGARY, AB — A short week might be beneficial for the Calgary Roughnecks.
After losing their third straight game in overtime on Saturday against the Rochester Knighthawks, the team is ready to move on and face their next challenge – the Toronto Rock.
Making sure they’re prepared will be extremely important.
“It is a short week,” Dickson said. “We’ve got to have a short memory here and it’s a big one next weekend. Watch film, see what we did right, see what we did wrong and be ready to go next weekend.”
The Toronto Rock opened the season with six straight losses, something the Roughnecks experienced last season, but have since come alive and have won two straight games.
Both of those wins have come at the ACC, the venue for Friday night’s affair.
“They’re hot right now. They started slow but they’ve won a couple in a row and they’re trying to stay in the thick of it,” explained Dickson. “We know they’ll be hungry and it’s never an easy building to play in, so we’re looking forward to Friday.”
For two teams at the bottom of their respective divisions, this will be a huge match-up with regards to staying in the playoff race. Toronto sits only 1.5 games behind the Georgia Swarm, while the Roughnecks sit a half game back of the Vancouver Stealth.
Last weekend’s contest may not have had the result that the Roughnecks desired, but it was filled with positives. The defence was, at times, suffocating and with the great play of Mike Poulin behind them, they held the Knighthawks to less than 10 goals. Even the offence showed some promise, despite being held to eight goals.
“I thought our defence was fantastic last game, them and Poulie are definitely not our problem right now,” Dickson said. “I think offensively we’ve got to find our stride and play a full 60.”
Something that Calgary showed all of last game, effort, is a key factor entering Friday’s game against the Rock.
“Just the process of our guys here, the hard work and putting in the effort,” defenceman Tyler Burton said. “We need to keep going with that and that’s the one positive that we need to keep rolling with. The bounces will start to fall for us, it’ll come.”
Right now, the bounces haven’t been coming, but the Necks have been without former 50-goal scorer Dane Dobbie. Losing that kind of production and leadership from the offence is tough, but Tyler Melnyk and Reilly O’Connor have done an admirable job stepping up in his stead.
Dobbie has missed four games and is expected to be out of the line-up once again this weekend.
“Any time you lose one of your leading goal scorers in Dobbie, those are tough shoes to fill,” admitted Dickson. “We’re coming along here and we’re hoping to get him back pretty soon. Obviously, he’s a big part of the team and the organization here.”
One way the Roughnecks can help mitigate the loss of Dobbie’s offence is by converting consistently on their power play.
While their home power play unit ranks near the bottom of the league, their road power play sits at 63.6%, nine percent higher than any other team in the NLL.
However, the Toronto Rock rank first in the NLL in power play percentage at home and have scored the most goals (29) with the man advantage.
Avoiding the penalty box will be paramount – even with a penalty kill that has been very successful this season.
With a raucous Toronto crowd behind the Rock, the ACC will not be a friendly arena for Calgary.
In fact, since 2010, the Roughnecks hold a 1-5 record when playing in Toronto. Leaving the Six with a victory will be huge for Calgary moving forward.
“We’ve got to find a way to win and it starts this weekend in Toronto,” opined Dickson. “They’re in a similar situation to us, but they’re coming off back to back wins after a slow start, so they’re going to be hungry to keep up in the playoff race. We’ve had a tough time in Toronto the past few years, so it’s about time we turn that around.”