By Joel Griffith | NLL.com Staff Writer
Photo Candice Ward
The Calgary Roughnecks will look to break out of their current slump in back-to-back games against the Saskatchewan Rush and New England Black Wolves this weekend.
The Roughnecks (4-8) will venture out on the road to take on the Rush (7-3) Friday night, and make the quick trip back to Calgary for a Saturday night date with the Black Wolves (6-6).
Since opening the season with three wins in four games, the Roughnecks have dropped seven of their last eight contests, and head coach Curt Malawsky said they need to start simplifying their game a bit more.
“It’s an old adage about just playing the shift that’s in front of you,” said Malawsky. “It’s really the only way to get ourselves out of this slump.”
Malawsky said they need to get back to believing in themselves and continuing to battle hard each and every shift.
“If they don’t have a good shift, they just need to make sure their next one is the best one,” said Malawsky. “We have to make sure we’re resetting, regrouping, and refocusing.”
In regular and post-season play, the Roughnecks haven’t been able to crack the code that is the Rush, dropping eight straight meetings, dating all the way back to the start of last season, and including the first two outings this season.
Malawsky said the Rush are one of the toughest teams to play against with their style of grinding teams down, and slowly chipping away.
“They don’t make a lot of mistakes, and they capitalize on your mistakes.”
In order to emerge victorious in the first half of back-to-back games, Malawsky said they’ll need to play as close to mistake-free lacrosse as they can, capitalizing on their five-on-five stops, and taking care of the ball.
“It’s a real fundamentally sound game we need to play against them.”
No matter the outcome against the Rush, the Roughnecks will head home the next day for their lone matchup of the year against the New England Black Wolves.
Although they only see them once a year, Roughnecks F Wesley Berg said his team knows what the Black Wolves are capable of, with a load of talent up front that know how to put the ball in the net, and a defence that’s quick on the ball.
“We need to create a lot of scoring chances ourselves,” said Berg “It’s like our game plan always is, we need to try to get to them early, instead trying to claw our way back.”
With the Black Wolves matchup being their second game in as many nights, Berg said it’s going to be important to keep the body as healthy as possible by eating properly and stretching frequently.
“It’s also going to be important to get on a good sleep pattern in order to get the first game done and still have enough juice for the second one,” said Berg.
Heading into this weekend’s slate, Roughnecks F Curtis Dickson leads the team with 68 points, while Rush F Mark Matthews leads his team with 66 points, and Shawn Evans heading the Black Wolves scoring with 70 points.
Friday’s game is set to get underway at the SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon 7:30 p.m. MST, followed by 7 p.m. MST start at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday.