For the third straight year, the Calgary Roughnecks finished the regular season in first place in the NLL West but bowed out early in the playoffs. For head coach Curt Malawsky, this was an unmitigated disaster.
Said Malawsky after Calgary lost 14-13 to the Washington Stealth in the West Division Final (via NLL.com), “The season is a waste. Straight up. You don’t win – it’s a failure. All of the hard work went down the tube. Proud of my guys, they battled and they battled hard but the end result is we didn’t get the job done and it stings and it hurts. It’s going to be a long, long time before these guys get over it but I’d go to battle with those guys anyday, anytime. I love them a lot. They don’t have to be ashamed of anything they did because they left it on the floor.”
Although they didn’t reach their goal of a third Champion’s Cup, it wasn’t all bad news for the Roughnecks.
Forward Shawn Evans rewrote the Roughnecks’ record book, setting new team highs for points (112) and assists (80) in a season. His league-leading point total earned him the NLL’s MVP award, making him only the second player in team history to win that honor (Jeff Shattler was the first in 2011).
Evans and Curtis Dickson were selected to the All-Pro teams in the league, Evans to the first team, Dickson to the second team. Dickson led the Roughnecks with 42 regular season goals, a career-high, and scored seven times in the West Division final against Washington, a playoff record for the Roughnecks.
Geoff Snider set team records in three categories this year. His 310 faceoff wins, 235 loose balls and 27 forced turnovers all set new single-season standards for Calgary and in just three seasons he is already the Roughnecks’ all-time leader in faceoff wins (821).
All things being equal, Snider will break the NLL’s career record for faceoff wins some time next season.
Joe Resetarits was named to the All-Rookie team on the strength of his 24-point season, sixth best in the league among rookies.
Where the team struggled was on the defensive side of things.
A year after giving up the fewest goals in the NLL, the Roughnecks tied for the most goals against with 211. In part that was due to a so-so year from starting goalie Mike Poulin (12.70 goals against average), but a bigger part was penalty trouble and undisciplined play.
The Roughnecks gave up the most power plays in the league (107), 22 more short-handed situations than power plays their offense were able to work with. That led to a whopping 59 goals conceded in penalty kill situations and resulted in the team having to battle uphill in too many games.
In 2014, the Roughnecks will be challenged to stay in their shoes and not take foolish penalties.
At the end of the day, the core of players on this squad are very good, with several steady defensemen, quick transition players, and the best, most balanced offense in the league. With a little extra tweaking, the Roughnecks could easily be challenging for the Champion’s Cup again in 2014.