NLL: Pivotal weekend ends in disappointment for Roughnecks

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It was a pivotal weekend for the Calgary Roughnecks as they faced the ever-daunting back-to-back games on their home turf of Westjet Field. Win both and you’re a top eight team. Lose both and now you’re in quite a hole. Unfortunately, it was the latter for the Roughnecks as they dropped Friday night’s game 11-10 to the New York Riptide and then Saturday night’s game 9-7 to the Toronto Rock.

Coming off another bye week, the Roughnecks seemed rested and ready for their first contest against the surging Riptide. The game was close from start to finish with neither team leading by more than two goals. Winning or losing games usually comes down to just a few factors: special teams, mistakes, and capitalizing on big moments and the Riptide bested the Roughnecks in every category. A lethal New York powerplay went 4/5 including the eventual game winner off the stick of Connor Kearnan. Meanwhile, Calgary made a number of uncharacteristic mistakes including missed passes and crease violations that resulted in turnovers prompting Coach Sanderson’s “no bright spots” quote after the game.

Jeff Teat made his first visit to Calgary since the 2018 Minto Cup and he did not disappoint. Teat dissected Calgary’s defense scoring four times and adding another five assists enroute to the victory. The sublime 26-year-old from Brampton has already posted consecutive 100+ point seasons and currently sits second in league scoring with 53 points. Some impressive wins of late against the likes of the Buffalo Bandits and Georgia Swarm have the Riptide currently sitting in a playoff spot with a 4-4 record.

Things did not get any easier for the Roughnecks as less than twenty-four hours later they welcomed the league leading Toronto Rock into the Saddledome. The star-studded Rock lineup featuring Mark Matthews, Tom Schreiber, Dan Craig, Nick Rose and a freshly activated TD Irelan were ready to go. Despite the previous night’s loss and it being the second game in two nights, Calgary fielded the same lineup save for Bennett Smith in for Seth Van Schepen.

Again, this was another close ballgame that could have gone either way. When you dive into the details and see that Toronto won the looseball battle (75-55), won the face-off battle (70%) and won the special teams battle (2/2 on the powerplay), it’s a little bit easier to see why they emerged victorious.

Tom Schreiber looked in mid-season form in only his second game back from injury. He scored twice and added another five assists. Mark Matthews facilitated the Rock offense with five assists of his own, while Nick Rose earned his 100th career victory in the Toronto crease stopping 38 of 45 shots.

On the Rigger side of the ball it was a much-improved effort over the previous night. The defense played a strong game only surrendering nine goals to a very good Toronto team. Jeff Cornwall had a team leading 3 caused turnovers while Zach Currier scooped 13 loose balls. The offense was led by Haiden Dickson who scored three times and Tanner Cook who scored once and added three assists.

Calgary (2-5) and Toronto (6-1) will finish their home-and-home series next Saturday in Hamilton while New York (4-4) will host the visiting San Diego Seals (6-2).