The Calgary Roughnecks (0-5) renew their division rivalry with the Vancouver Stealth (2-3) tonight in what’s considered by some to be a “must win” as the Roughnecks, who are currently on their worst start in franchise history look to turn the tides and start getting some traction in what’s proved to be a tightly packed western conference top standings.
In their first meeting of the season the Stealth spoiled the Roughnecks home opener with a final score of 18-14, in which at one point the Calgary squad had a five goal lead early in the second quarter only to go dry for the better part of the next three giving up 11 straight to a re-vamped Vancouver offence who hasn’t seen production like that since but you can bet the road team hasn’t forgotten that tonight.
Although the team has seen flashes of brilliance and compete, ultimately they have failed to reach their goal this season at the end of games. The team could easily be 3-2 as they have had three one goal games and two overtime losses—one to the Mammoth and the other to the Bandits last week—and a late goal given up by one of the league’s top scorers Josh Sanderson in Toronto with just over a minute left to crush a late rally by the Roughnecks who at one point had a lead in that game after being down most of the game.
It’s not like Calgary isn’t scoring either. Shawn Evans is being his usual point producing self, be it in a very quiet way. Not noticed in the losing are his tie for the league lead with 40 points (15 G, 25 A) competing with Ryan Benesch at the top, but also having teammate Curtis Dickson being tied for 14th in league scoring with 26 points (13 G,13 A).
Considering this team finished a respectable second place in the West last year, they just haven’t looked in form for much of the year and that seems to have cost them. Giving up numerous bad timing penalties, most notably three too many men calls in a home loss and late penalties last game starting overtime with Geoff Snider taking a holding call at the end of regulation, then Curtis Dickson putting himself in the box with Dhane Smith to take off one of the team’s best talents on just bad decisions.
To win their first game tonight, the Roughnecks will have to play their first 60 minute game of the season. Every team has lapses in games that give up scoring opportunities but Calgary seems to be doing that for extended periods and the team also can’t go quiet putting the ball in the opposite net.
The Roughnecks can also take advantage of a Stealth team struggling to find traction. After a come from behind victory to open the season Vancouver has only played one other strong game against they Mammoth for their only other win while being blown out the week earlier against said Colorado team in a 11 goal loss 20-9 and two other harsh defeats at the hands of the Rock 20-11 as well as a nail biter against the Bandits 14-13.
The team knows they have to take advantage of the fact the Stealth have tendencies to give up big losses. With the skill in the Roughnecks dressing room it’s only a matter of time before the team has a big night and shows a little bit of that Western Conference champions form they had last year when they played a team game and didn’t try to do it all on a personal basis which the team has admitted being a bit of a problem this year.
The team knows they have the skill to compete in this league and make a playoff run, but, after the way they have started they have a big mountain to climb to even start thinking post season. They also know they only need to be top three in the division to make an attempt at getting back to the Championship Game.
Game is not televised but can be found at NLL Live with opening face off 10 ET/7 PT at the Langley Event Center.