Going into the 2014 National Lacrosse League season, the Calgary Roughnecks have won the West Division three years in a row and consider themselves disappointments. For a franchise that won two championships in their first nine years of existence, nothing short of a Champion’s Cup is considered good enough.
The Roughnecks have made some roster moves in and around the recent draft in an effort to try to become more competitive. They sent Joe Resetarits and Jackson Decker away on trades for draft picks intended to get them as much athleticism as possible while improving their transition game which was, at times, a weakness in 2013.
General Manager Mike Board clearly felt Calgary has enough depth up front to afford to let a talented young shooter like Resetarits go. Considering that they have the league’s top scorer and MVP in Shawn Evans, 40-goal-scorers Dane Dobbie and Curtis Dickson, former MVP Jeff Shattler, former WLA scoring champ Scott Ranger, AND Daryl Veltman, who had two eight-point games in 2013 and has averaged four points per game in his career, Board is probably right.
Mix in secondary options in Matthew Dinsdale and Aaron Pascas and it looks like Calgary has enough firepower to lead the league in scoring for a second year in a row.
The centerpiece of the transition game is Geoff Snider. He is the best faceoff man in the league, one of the toughest players around, and averages two points per game on top of it all. Peter McFetridge and Curtis add size and speed to the transition game while Travis Cornwall provides versatility at both ends of the floor.
Calgary’s first two draft picks this year add depth to the transition game. Tor Reinholdt and Karsen Leung are both athletic and both have experience in the WLA playing with fellow Roughnecks; Reinholdt spent time with Dane Dobbie with the Langley Thunder and Leung was on the Victoria Shamrocks with six other current Roughnecks.
Nolan Heavenor just announced his retirement in the past week, opening up space in the transition unit. It also means Calgary doesn’t have a proven back-up in the faceoff circle. Dinsdale is the only other Roughneck to take a draw last year and he only won one in four attempts. Someone on the roster will have to step up to take on this role because Snider has a tendency to a lot of spend time in the penalty box, so they need a guy who can fill in during those moments.
Calgary’s defense is a very tight group that works extremely well as a unit. Team captain Andrew McBride, Dan McRae, Scott and Mike Carnegie, Jon and Greg Harnett play a team-first system that generally does a very good job keeping opposition offenses at bay. Calgary also added some size and strength to the defense when they took 6’4″ Garrett McIntosh in the third round.
Mike Poulin had a solid summer for the KW Kodiaks after a so-so season with the Roughnecks so Calgary is probably looking for a bounce-back year more towards the form that earned him the Goaltender of the Year award in 2012. Backup Frankie Scigliano helped guide the New Westminster Salmonbellies to the Minto Cup where they lost to the Whitby Warriors but, like Poulin, has a solid summer and can hopefully carry that momentum to the Roughnecks for his third season with the squad.
Calgary drafted Coquitlam Adanacs goalie Peter Dubenski in the fourth round, so they have a third option if either Poulin or Scigliano struggle.
Overall, this is a team that has gained some highly athletic youngsters to a mix that includes a number of players that are just hitting their prime. A run for the Champion’s Cup could be in the works as a result.