The Rochester Knighthawks (6-3) take a four-game winning streak out west to Alberta for a rematch with the Calgary Roughnecks (2-7) on Saturday at 9 p.m. ET at Scotiabank Saddledome. The game will be broadcast on NLL LIVE in the U.S. and TSN GO in Canada.
The two teams met two weeks ago in Week 9 at the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester where the Knighthawks came away with a 12-11 win. Rochester had a week off to rest up and get ready for the rematch with the Roughnecks.
“We were very happy with the way we worked in the first half,” said Knighthawks head coach Mike Hasen about the close victory over Calgary. “In the second half, you knew Calgary was going to come out and they did and they performed well. We just have to find a way to match it. Hopefully this week we will be better.”
The last time these two teams faced off in Calgary, the Roughnecks won Game 1 of the Champion’s Cup finals last season, 10-7. The Knighthawks know how passionate the fans are at the Saddledome and are expecting nothing less than the best Calgary has to offer no matter the record.
“They always play well in Calgary,” Hasen said. “The fans there make the atmosphere great to play in. It’s going to be a tough one.”
“Calgary’s a high-powered offense,” said Knighthawks transition player Brad Self, who had a goal and an assist two weeks ago against the Roughnecks. “We know each other pretty well having played last year in the championship and now having played a couple of weeks ago. We have to be ready for 60 minutes. They showed that they’re run-and-gun and they’re on the attack, so we have to be prepared for that. Having the week off, it’ll be nice to have a practice (Wednesday night) to get back sharp and make sure we’re ready to weather the storm in their building.”
The week off provided a chance for the Knighthawks to take a deep breath and step back a little bit especially before a rematch.
“It’s fresh on our guys’ mind, so it was good to get away from it for a week,” Hasen said. “We had practice last week, but it was a little lighter than normal, recharge our batteries and refresh… We’ll go through all the highs and the lows video-wise. We’ll do our diligence and be ready to go this weekend.”
The Roughnecks will be on home turf again after earning two-game split on the road. The ‘Necks narrowly lost its last contest to the Knighthawks but momentum from Calgary’s impressive comeback in that game seemed to carry over into the team’s 12-11 overtime win against the Edmonton Rush (4-4) last weekend.
Roughnecks assistant coach Bob McMahon believes it was a team effort to grasp the OT win against Edmonton.
“I thought we had a pretty good game overall,” McMahon said. “I thought our goaltending was good, we got a good effort out of all 16 guys, I think everyone contributed in some part to the win.”
After a rocky start in the first quarter against the Rush last weekend, the ‘Necks stayed levelheaded and ultimately came out on top.
“We were pretty happy that we remained composed after Edmonton’s early start,” McMahon said. “We stuck with the process and we were fortunate enough to win in overtime.”
Sticking with the process seems to be the motto for the Roughnecks coaching staff lately. Calgary’s second-year defenseman Garrett McIntosh believes that the message from the coaching staff is starting to pay off.
“At the beginning of the year, it seemed like we were having a tough time getting any wins under our belt, seemed like every single one-goal game was going the opposite way,” McIntosh stated. “It felt a little frustrating but we had (coaches) Curt (Malawsky) and Bobby (McMahon) always stepping in telling us to stick to the process, things are going to happen, balls are going to bounce our way, and we’re going to get our chances. We kept to the process and we’re finally seeing the results of our hard work for sure.”
After watching Rochester celebrate a title at their expense last year and a close road loss this season, the Riggers will have a chance at redemption this weekend.
“It seems like every time we get a win, we get rewarded with playing Rochester,” McMahon said. “We know we’re playing a very good team, we’ve played them quite often over the last couple of years. Two weeks ago, it was a very good game; it was a tale of two games. I’m sure (Knighthawks head coach) Hasen preferred the front half, and I know we liked the second half of the game”
The Riggers are excited to be home again. Playing in their own barn may be just what they need to secure a win against the Knighthawks.
“I know the guys love playing in the ‘Dome,” McMahon said. “The games in the league are ones of momentum, I know our home fans are very knowledgeable, and they’re very vocal. They help us build momentum when we do get on our runs.”
McIntosh will be keeping the fans in mind at the game as the Roughnecks work towards earning the team’s second home win of the year.
“They deserve one that’s for sure,” McIntosh admitted. “They bring it every single time that we show up to the ‘Dome… It starts with the moment we get into town, to the final buzzer at the end of the game. The crowd is amazing and we absolutely love it.”
The Roughnecks are going to focus hard on this game, as they look to improve their 2-7 record, and finally triumph over the Knighthawks.
“Both teams know that they have to play a complete 60 minutes to win on Saturday night,” McMahon concluded.
Story by Jeremy Pike (@KnighthawksBeat) & Laura Bates (@RoughnecksBeat) for NLL.com. Photo by Brad Watson.