The Calgary Roughnecks will try to extend their four-game winning streak this weekend as they take to the road for two games. The first is against the Toronto Rock Friday night in the Air Canada Centre.
This is a battle of the two first place teams, with the Roughnecks currently leading the West Division at 4-2 and the Rock leading the East at 5-2.
Calgary is coming off a 9-8 victory over the Edmonton Rush which was decided by Curtis Dickson’s fourth goal of the night with less than a minute left to play in regulation.
Jeff Shattler (1+2), Geoff Snider (3A) and Aaron Pascas (3A) contributed to the cause with three points apiece.
Mike Poulin was outstanding in net for the Riggers, turning aside 45 shots while giving up just eight goals.
The Rock, meanwhile, had their three-game win streak spoiled by the Minnesota Swarm, who snuck past them 13-12 in overtime.
Former Roughneck Nick Rose had another solid effort in net for the Rock, stopping 41 shots in the loss and will be looking to come on strong against the team that traded him mid-season last year.
Stephan Leblanc led the offensive charge with seven points (1+7) while captain Colin Doyle added five points of his own (1+4).
These two teams currently share similar strengths.
Both have significant depth on offense with several weapons available; Toronto is scoring a decent 11.4 goals per game, while Calgary is leading the NLL with 14.2 goals per game.
Garrett Billings of the Rock is currently leading the NLL in points, with 40, while Calgary’s Shawn Evans is right behind him at 39.
Toronto in fact has four players—Billings, Doyle, Leblanc and Josh Sanderson—in the top 10 in NLL scoring and five in the top 30. Calgary, also has five in the top 30, including Evans, Shattler, Dickson, Scott Ranger and Dane Dobbie, who missed last week’s game due to a family commitment.
Both teams are also both solid defensively and have been getting very good goaltending; Toronto is giving up just 10.3 goals per game while Calgary is surrendering 11.5 per game.
The Rock beat the Roughnecks in their first game of the season. Picking up several easy goals early on transition, the Rock cruised to a 13-11 win.
Calgary seems to have addressed their transition issues, so Toronto can’t necessarily rely on those opportunities again.
If there is a clear advantage in this game, it will be in the faceoff circle where Roughneck Geoff Snider is once again on pace to re-write the record books. If he continues at his current rate, he’ll win 336 faceoffs, destroying the record his brother Bob set just last year.
Stephen Hoar is simply no match for Snider. His 39.5 percent success rate puts him sixth in the NLL among players who have taken 100 or more draws.
If Snider can convert some of these wins into scoring chances (and he often does), that could be the difference in the game.
We’ll find out when the two teams square off at 7:30 Friday night.