It’s safe to say the Calgary Roughnecks are happy to be home.
The Roughnecks (6-6) took down the visiting Toronto Rock (7-3) 15-9 Saturday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome in front 10,674 lively fans.
Coming off two straight losses to the Buffalo Bandits and Saskatchewan Rush, a win over the second place Rock was just what the doctor ordered.
“We had two Saskatchewan’s, a Buffalo, and now a Toronto, arguably the top three teams in the NLL. For us to come out of this stretch at .500 is huge for us,” said Malawsky.
“We had a lot of turnovers at Saskatchewan and that didn’t sit well with the guys, so for us to come home and show the resiliency, and show we can learn from the game before is a huge team-building thing for us that we’re taking steps in the right direction.”
The Roughnecks managed to build a 6-1 lead early in the second quarter and would go on to maintain that lead for the remainder of the game, not allowing the Rock to inch closer than three goals.
“We kind of learned from last weekend where we were coming off a bye and were a little rusty,” said Malawsky.
“Toronto was coming off a bye and traveling across the country, so our plan was to come out hard early and see if we can jump on them and get a lead.”
One of the key moments of the game came midway through the second quarter. The Rock had just made it 6-3 and were headed to the power play with a chance to pull to within two goals.
Instead, Riley Loewen fired home a short-handed marker to put the Roughnecks back ahead by four.
“It was massive. When they score and we come right back and score on the penalty kill, that’s a huge momentum shift, and a momentum killer for them,” said Loewen.
“We actually scored three shorthanded goals tonight, and those are massive. You can’t ask for anything more than that.”
Loewen finished the night with five points (three goals, two assists), while Rhys Duch (four goals, two assists), Curtis Dickson (eight assists) and Dane Dobbie (one goal, six assists) also had big nights on the scoresheet.
Coming off two games where they mustered just 19 goals total, Loewen said tonight’s offensive effort was simply a matter of following the game plan the coaches laid out.
“We just stuck to the game plan. We wanted to make their goalie work and score the easy goals,” said Loewen.
“We had a lot of quick sticks, open net, easy goals, and when you’re doing that you’re going to come out on top.”
Roughnecks goaltender Christian Del Bianco had another big night between the pipes, stopping 46 of the 55 shots he faced.
Del Bianco, and the Roughnecks defense as a whole, have been stellar this season, and continued that strong play once again, limiting the Rock’s high-octane offense to just nine goals.
“The key was just us sticking to our game plan,” said Del Bianco.
“They went on a couple runs there, but we also had a couple runs where we didn’t let in any goals. We just kept an even keel through the whole game and executed the game plan our coaches gave us.”
Next up for the Roughnecks will be a home contest on Saturday night where they will welcome their division rival Colorado Mammoth into town.
Del Bianco said it’s no secret what they need to do next week, which is pick up right where they left off tonight.
“We just need to stick to the same thing. Every game at this point of the season is getting into that playoff mentality,” said Del Bianco.
“We need to continue doing the little things, getting the loose balls, and doing the stuff that all adds up to the win.”
- Rhys Duch
- Dane Dobbie
- Riley Loewen