If the Toronto Rock are a revenge-minded team, this is the game they’ve been waiting for.
The Calgary Roughnecks (5-7) will host the Rock (6-6) Saturday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome in the first meeting between the teams since a 16-8 rout by the Roughnecks in Toronto back on Feb. 3.
While payback may be on the mind of the Rock, the Roughnecks are focused strictly on the game at hand.
“What they do to prepare and how they think will be irrelevant to us,” said Roughnecks head coach Curt Malawsky
“We just have to make sure we’re focusing on what we need to do, and obviously we’re going to make sure we have some schemes that can get us some good looks offensively and deter some of their offensive guys to get in front of our net.”
In order to come away victorious on Saturday, the Roughnecks will look to play the same game they did for the first 53 minutes of their 14-13 win last week over the Rochester Knighthawks.
They were dominant from the opening faceoff right up until the seven-minute mark when the Knighthawks began to mount a comeback attempt. Malawsky said they simply need to focus on playing a full 60 minutes, and the success will follow.
“We just need to make sure we keep our foot on the gas, and the hand around the throat, and finish the game in a not so tight fashion going forward, and make sure we play that full 60,” said Malawsky.
The Rock bring in one of the top defenses and goaltenders in the NLL, so current leading scorers Wesley Berg (52 points) and Curtis Dickson (49 points) will have to be at their best.
Malawsky said they’ll be focused on choosing the right opportunities to shoot ball, and having a “quality over quantity” mentality. “They have a very good defense and a world class goaltender, and if we just settle for outside shots, it’s going to be a long night,” said Malawsky. “We have to make a conscious effort of trying to move the ball, move our feet, and look for better opportunities.”
After going five-for-six with the man advantage last game, the Roughnecks will look to keep that momentum rolling into Saturday’s contest against a middle-of-the-pack Rock penalty kill. Roughnecks forward Dane Dobbie said their power play hasn’t been up to their standards for the majority of the season, but last weekend showed what they’re capable of doing. “We need to make it tough for teams when they take a penalty by executing on our power plays,” said Dobbie. “Last weekend, we were terrific. So, hopefully we’ll have a good practice Friday, go over some power play stuff, and keep it rolling against Toronto.”
Both the Roughnecks and the Rock enter Saturday’s contest in the midst of their respective, heated playoff races. While the Roughnecks do have some breathing room, the Rock do not. In the East division, only half a game separates the second place Rock from last place.
Dobbie said he’s expecting both teams to come out desperate for a win, and it may come down to who wants it more. “The team that comes out and works the hardest, and is willing to go to the dirty areas will come away with the win,” said Dobbie. “We have two fantastic goalies, two fantastic defenses, and the offenses will battle it out. It’ll be a great lacrosse game.”