CALGARY, AB – The Calgary Roughnecks are a desperate team.
After falling to the Buffalo Bandits 15-14 in overtime at Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday, the Roughnecks remain winless through the opening five games of the season.
“Now there’s some adversity, a lot of it,” Calgary coach Curt Malawsky said.
“Being 0-5, I think it could have gone either way. I’d like to say that we deserve better. From a work ethic standpoint, the guys worked extremely hard in the last two games. We’ve still got some things to clean up, some fundamental mistakes that end up in the back of our net.”
With a little luck, the Roughnecks could have been 3-2 on the year.
The team has lost three one-goal games (with two going to OT) against Colorado, Toronto, and Buffalo.
A few less mistakes or better bounces and this team could be right in the mix.
“It’s unfortunate,” Malawsky said. “You play those one-goal games and it just doesn’t go your way. You hit a couple posts in overtime last game. I thought we deserved better from a work ethic standpoint.”
Added Roughnecks defenceman Jon Harnett: “The last two weeks, two one-goal games, but that happens a lot in this league. It’s a very close league. We need to find a way to pull those games out and I think we’ve got the group to do it.”
In desperate need of a win, Calgary will battle the Vancouver Stealth this weekend.
Although the teams played in week one of the season, the Stealth have since changed and present new challenges for the Roughnecks.
“Picking up [forward] Corey Small, they are going to have a different look than they did in our home opener,” Harnett said.
But Small is just one of many challenges.
“They’re moving the ball very well, they are sharing the work, sharing the load, the responsibility on the floor,” Malawsky said. “(Stealth assistant coach) Kaleb Toth’s got their guys utilizing their strengths. Their inside guys are playing an inside game, their outside guys are playing an outside game and establishing a presence either way.
“It’s a dynamic offence that is a lot different from week one. It’s tough when all the guys on the offensive end are contributing. It’s hard to defend.”
The Stealth had a bye week during week six.
In week five at home, Vancouver was able to top the Colorado Mammoth 16-13 and saddle them with their first loss of the season.
The win improved the Stealth’s record to 2-3 on the season.
“Every week we have to have that [tough guy] mentality,” said Stealth coach Dan Perrault. “We went in to Colorado and we didn’t have it and you see the result, we lost badly. We learned from that, back-to-back in Colorado, we were focused and determined. We were happy with the effort and we all prepared as a group well and it was determination that we were going to come out strong last game.”
At home once again, Vancouver hopes to knock-off the Roughnecks. However, Calgary will be battling hard to find that elusive first win of the year.
It will be a brawl between the two rivals.
“We know that we’re going to be in for a real battle this Saturday night,” Perrault said. “Calgary is a dangerous team, a very good team, very strong team and we know we are going to have our hands full. We are going to have to be much better than we were against Colorado.”
Should Calgary lose to Vancouver this weekend, they would extend their franchise worst record to start the year at 0-6.
The Roughnecks are trying not to think of that possibility.
Calgary will head to the Langley Events Centre on Valentine’s Day in hopes of playing ‘Hart’-breaker.
“We are going to embrace the challenge,” Harnett said. “This is a must-win game for us and we can’t fall to 0-6. That’s not even in our minds right now. Our mindset is to even up the season series with the Stealth and that’s what we plan on doing on Saturday.”
And do so as a team.
“We’re all in this together,” Malawsky said. “We’re all going to turn this around together. We’re a pretty focused group right now, and a pretty pissed off group too.”