Heading into a weekend set of games against the Toronto Rock and the Minnesota Swarm, Calgary Roughnecks rookies were afforded plenty of opportunity to show both the coaching staff and management that they deserved a spot on the Roughnecks active roster.
The Roughnecks didn’t select until 16th overall in the most recent NLL draft, when they selected the towering 6’10”, 245 pound defender Tyson Roe out of the Nanaimo Timbermen WLA program. Roe along with Pat Henry, and undrafted free agent signee’s Casey Jackson and Connor Goodwin were the lone rookies to take part in the exhibition games this past weekend.
Tyson Roe, the towering defender looked impressive for the Roughnecks, as he showed solid defensive instincts, was excellent on loose balls, and showed an ability to transition the ball very well when the opportunity presented itself. Roe’s size allows him to take up a lot of floor on the defensive end, he’s able to get his body and stick in the shooting/passing lanes which allows him to excel on defense.
The speed of the game seemed to overwhelm Roe at times, although he responded well. Roe is still adjusting to the speed of the NLL game; when he catches up to the pace, he by all means will be a solid contributing member of the Roughnecks d-core.
Pat Henry, the offensive stud who was drafted out of the Calgary Mountaineers Jr. A program in the fourth round, 36th overall, looked fairly good for the Roughnecks in a pair of exhibition games. While you could tell at times Henry was outmatched by seasoned NLL defenders, he showed a high compete level, a willingness to go to the dirty areas and some good offensive vision when he was in possession of the ball.
Henry did what he needed to do to be a complementary player at the offensive end. However after playing against less inferior competition in the Albert Junior Lacrosse league, he looked overwhelmed by the speed and strength of guys. To me he’s an intriguing prospect, with some good upside. Henry should be afforded an opportunity on the Roughnecks practice roster.
Connor Goodwin, the 6’1″, 180 pound lefty from New Westminster has shown well at camp to date. While he hasn’t been setting the earth on fire with highlight reel goals, crushing body checks or sweet no look passes, he has been as steady as they come, and contributed offensively when opportunities presented themselves. Goodwin recorded three goals in two games this past weekend, and seemed to thrive in the role as a depth offensive lefty.
With Dane Dobbie, Jeff Shattler and Daryl Veltman firmly entrenched on the left side of the Roughnecks offense, Goodwin will be in tough to see playing time, however showing he can contribute as a depth player bodes well for him moving forward. Goodwin produced 22 goals and 26 assists for 48 points in 14 regular season games with the Port Coquitlam Saints last summer before joining the RMLL’s Calgary Mountaineers for their final four regular season games, playoffs and Minto Cup semi-final series against the Coquitlam Adanacs.
Casey Jackson, after surprisingly going undrafted in the 2014 NLL Draft, was out to prove all his doubters wrong by making an impact at Roughnecks camp. While he did score a goal in each game last weekend, he was largely unnoticeable at times. He kept his feet moving, was setting solid picks and helping get guys open, but it just didn’t seem like he was playing his best lacrosse.
Jackson is a player who thrives in possession of the ball, and being a secondary player, asked to be more of a grinder just doesn’t suit his style of play. It’s not that Jackson was bad for the Roughnecks last weekend, it’s more that he didn’t excel in a role that he would have to play if he was to crack the Roughnecks final roster. There’s no denying he has immense talent, however I just don’t see Calgary and Jackson as a fit at this stage.