The Calgary Roughnecks (5-5) host the Minnesota Swarm (3-6) at Scotiabank Saddledome on Friday at 9pm ET for their second meeting in 2013. (Photo: Chris Fischbeck)
The Calgary Roughnecks (5-5) and Minnesota Swarm (3-6) both look to end two-game losing streaks when they meet at Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary on Friday at 9 p.m. ET. Watch the game live on YouTube via The Lacrosse Network.
The Roughnecks are coming off of an 18-13 home loss to their provincial rival Edmonton Rush last weekend, a game which included an emotional “Forever a Roughneck” ceremony for retired Roughnecks legend Kaleb Toth.
“I thought the game was relatively close early and [Edmonton] got going on a pretty good run in the second and third quarters and we may have run late and couldn’t catch up,” said Calgary’s assistant coach Bob McMahon. “But kudos to them, that’s a really good ball club and they played well.”
When asked if the pregame ceremony was maybe a little bit of a distraction for the Roughnecks, defenseman Greg Harnett wasn’t buying it.
“That’s no excuse for us and I’m not really sure what it was,” he said. “It didn’t have anything to do with the ceremony. It was just a slow start for us and things weren’t really bouncing our way that night. We were working hard but it just wasn’t our night to say the least. I have to give Edmonton credit. They had a great game – their offense was stellar. We’ve got to regroup and look into this upcoming weekend.”
The Swarm were outscored 8-3 in the first half of their 11-8 road loss to the Washington Stealth last weekend and will be looking for a fast start on Friday as Minnesota has been outscored by a combined 34-21 in the first quarter so far this season.
“You’ve got to weather the storm when you’re on the road,” said Swarm head coach Joe Sullivan. “For us, it’s going to be all about weathering the storm in Calgary, getting through the first four or five minutes and then settling in and playing our game.”
Minnesota has struggled to put four solid quarters together over the course of a game.
“That comes back onto me and my staff,” Sullivan said. “We’ve got to govern the highs and lows. Being such a young team, it’s more evident this year that, when we get into these lows, we’re having a tough time snapping out of it. Our veteran guys are trying to do too much and our younger guys, sometimes when they struggle, they struggle.”
Those highs and lows were apparent the last time these two teams met on Feb. 16 in St. Paul. The Swarm scored a season-high 16 goals but fell 17-16 at the hands of the Roughnecks.
“We gave up three transition goals late in the game when the game was in hand for us and that was just simply because our offense decided they weren’t going to get off the floor,” Sullivan said. “Thrilled that we got the 16 goals, but to give up 17 is just completely unacceptable.”
Minnesota led late in the fourth quarter of their first meeting, but Calgary's Curtis Dickson scored two shorthanded goals to help the Roughnecks steal a win.
“[The Swarm] are a very good team with all the additions with the rookies and now they’ve got two-thirds of the season under their belt.” McMahon said. “They are going to compete every night, I think everybody knows that they are an excellent transition team and we are just going to have to control the tempo of the game a little bit and sort of control the runs.”
Harnett said focusing on details will be crucial to Calgary’s success this weekend and going forward.
“We’ve just got to get back to the basics and doing things that made us successful. Working hard on and off the floor. Just little things.”
McMahon offered some more keys to the upcoming game for the Roughnecks.
“We have to possess the ball, we have to be cognizant of the shot clock, we have to take intelligent shots and not just give them the opportunity to grab loose balls and run,” he said. “They are such an athletic and good young team that they are going to get their chances. We just sort of have to minimize them.”
Though Minnesota’s goaltending situation receives much of the attention, the team’s issues lie in other areas, Sullivan said.
“I’m still happy with our goaltending,” he said. “It’s our defense and our offense that I’d be more concerned about. Our offense is giving up inopportune shots that has allowed the other team to march down the floor and run into numbers and get great looks. Our defense, not as of late, was struggling badly as we tried to incorporate a couple new players into that set. Now that we have done that we’re in a better situation.
“Our goalies are seeing the ball and we’re limiting the shots a heck of a lot better where we want to. But our offense, they’ve still got a job to do and that’s going to be all about making the right decisions on the shots.”
The Swarm’s goaltending duo of Evan Kirk and Tyler Carlson hopes to push the team past their early struggles.
“I think Ty [Carlson] and I both have to bear down and work with what we have and realize that we’re digging for some wins and definitely help the guys out,” Kirk said.
Minnesota’s netminder is confident that there’s still time to turn the tide.
“This is the team that we have,” Kirk said. “It’s a little bit different than last year and we’re not going to make any changes in our structure and just kind of buy in and focus and realize that we can go 10-6. We can turn the season around. We’ve got a lot of games left.
“The NLL season is just like a game. You have to deal with the highs and the lows. You just have to make the playoffs to win the championship.”