The Calgary Roughnecks (3-4) will look to put an end to their three-game skid Saturday night when they host the Vancouver Warriors (2-5) at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
Despite the Warriors’ slow start to the season, Roughnecks head coach Curt Malawsky said they’re a better team than their record indicates, and they’re preparing for a tough, divisional battle.
“Throw their record right out the window. I think they got a great offense, they have a good defensive system, they’re getting great goaltending, and they compete extremely hard,” said Malawsky.
“What we need to do is compete extremely hard ourselves, and play a mentally tough, disciplined game.”
The Roughnecks’ losing streak began back on Jan. 12 in a home loss to the New England Black Wolves, and was followed up by back-to-back losses to the San Diego Seals and Colorado Mammoth the following weekend.
Malawsky said they have been unable to take advantage of momentum changing opportunities during this stretch, which is something they’ll look to rectify Saturday night.
“There’s key moments in each game where you can sway momentum and either get back in the game or get ahead in the game, and I thought in those key moments we made errors,” said Malawsky.
“We need to clean up the little things that are important moments in the game, identifying what they are, and going back to what makes us successful.”
While nothing is set in stone, the Roughnecks could receive a spark with the potential return of Tyler Pace to the lineup. Pace has missed the last four games due to injury, but was on a tear before going down, tallying 13 points (five goals, eight assists) in three games.
Malawsky said he’s unsure of Pace’s availability for Saturday’s contest, but will welcome him with open arms if he’s ready to go.
“If and when he does come back, he’s a huge part of our offense. He has a great inside game, he has a great outside game, and he brings a lot of energy,” said Malawsky.
“If we welcome Tyler to the offense, great. If we just keep running with the guys we got, that’s just fine with us too. We’ll be focusing on what we do have and not what we don’t have at this point.”
After missing the first four games of the season due to contract negotiations, Curtis Dickson made his return to the lineup Jan. 12.
With just nine points (two goals, seven assists) in his first three games back, Dickson said he hasn’t been performing at the level he should, and isn’t making any excuses.
“I’ve been playing lacrosse for over 20 years, so I can’t attribute any poor play to not having a few practices before the season starts. That’s on me. It was my responsibility to come into the season ready to go,” said Dickson.
“I take full responsibility and it’s something I’ll be looking to improve on moving forward here.”
The Roughnecks enter Saturday’s contest coming off a full week of rest, following their weekend set in Colorado and San Diego the previous weekend.
Dickson said although they always want to get right back on the field coming off a loss, he said the break could be just what the doctor ordered.
“It can go both ways. A lot of the time you want to get back out there and get back in the win column, but at the same time it gives you some time to look back and reflect, and look at some film,” said Dickson.
“We enjoyed our week off and made the most of it, but we’re excited to get out and get going again.”
Another area plaguing the Roughnecks during this three-game skid has been scoring goals. After lighting the lamp with ease through the first four games of the season, the Roughnecks have managed just 10 goals, nine goals, and seven goals respectively in their three losses.
And while their shots-on-goal totals have also been down in recent games, Dickson said they need to start creating more high-quality scoring chances and not just look at shooting the ball more.
“We need to put ourselves in position to get high-quality opportunities because you can take as many shots as you want, but if they’re from the outside, the goalie’s going to sit there and eat those up,” said Dickson.
“We have to find ways to get in front of the net and get some good scoring opportunitie