After securing their first win of the season on Dec. 15, the Calgary Roughnecks will look to build off that performance when they welcome the Colorado Mammoth to the Scotiabank Saddledome on Friday.
The Roughnecks suffered one of their worst losses in franchise history in their season-opener, but bounced back nicely in their last contest, showing improvement in every facet of the game.
Roughnecks head coach Curt Malawsky said they were better on all areas of the floor in comparison to their season-opener, and they need to continue to build on those improvements going forward.
“Our offence was much better, our defence was much better, we had solid goaltending, we picked up a lot of loose balls, and we won more face-offs than we lost,” said Malawsky. “Every area of the floor we were a little bit better in, and that equated to a win.”
He said they will need to do everything they did last game, and more, in order to hand the Mammoth their first defeat. Given the skill the Mammoth have up front, Malawsky said it’s going to be important for them to possess the ball, and keep it away from the Mammoth offence as much as possible.
“Anytime they put five guys on the floor, they’re constantly passing and cutting. It’s a very well-run offence,” said Malawsky. “They all contribute; they play offence by committee. So, we’re going to have to play defence by committee, and stick to our principles, and make sure they don’t put us in places we don’t want to be in.”
Offensively, the Roughnecks will need to be shooting their best, as they’ll be going up against one of the best goalies in the NLL in Dillon Ward.
Malawsky said they’re going to need to be strategic and selective with their shots, as a goalie like him will easily turn aside any mediocre attempt.
“We’re going to have to try and get to spots on the floor where we can potentially get some good looks at the net,” said Malawsky. “We’re going to have to be methodical up front, stay disciplined, and stick to our systematic principles.”
Ward currently boasts a 9.50 GAA paired with a .817 save percentage through two games this season. In the opposite crease, the Roughnecks are expected to start Frank Scigliano, who will look to improve his current 15.43 GAA and .761 save percentage.
On the offensive side of the ball, Ryan Benesch leads the Mammoth into Friday’s contest with 14 points this season, while Curtis Dickson heads the Roughnecks attack with seven points.
Another player the Roughnecks have received a good chunk of production from so far is Holden Cattoni. He’s tallied five points so far in just his second NLL season, and he said he’s been utilizing his strengths well this season, and hopes to continue doing so on Friday.
“Shooting the ball is probably my strongest attribute as an offensive player,” said Cattoni. I just need to keep getting more shots.”
He said another big contributor to his early success, especially last game, is the offence finally starting to develop some chemistry after suffering through injuries shaking up the lineup in preseason. With everyone now healthy, it’s allowed him and the rest of the offence more time to get on the same page.
“Even having a little more time together last week will be a big benefit this weekend,” said Cattoni. “It’s all about gaining chemistry.”
Face-off is set for Friday at 7 p.m. MST.