There’s no questioning the Calgary Roughnecks desire to win in this one.
The Roughnecks (2-4) will welcome the New York Riptide (1-7) into the Scotiabank Saddledome for the first time on Saturday night.
The Roughnecks enter action having lost three straight games, while also having yet to earn their first home win of the campaign.
Roughnecks head coach Curt Malawsky said there will be no shortage of motivation heading into Saturday’s date with the Riptide.
“You look at the standings and you look at our 0-3 record at home, I think that’s enough motivation right there,” said Malawsky.
“We need to right the ship here. This is an important game at home, and we have a lot of divisional teams winning games, so it’s important we keep pace and start putting wins up ourselves.”
The Roughnecks last time out on the turf was a 15-12 homes loss to the Halifax Thunderbirds, a game they were up as much as 6-2 shortly before the break before an eventual seven-goal run by the Thunderbirds put the game out of reach.
Malawsky said there were plenty of positives to take from the last game, but ultimately it comes down to playing a full 60 minutes.
“We have to get back to working as hard as we can each and every shift we’re on the floor,” said Malawsky.
“Each guy needs to put a full 60 in. I’m not saying guys aren’t trying hard, but I think everyone needs to pull on the rope for 60 minutes, and that’s where we’ll have success.”
Now facing a Riptide squad in their inaugural season, it’s likely to be a feeling out process of sorts to start off the game.
Although they may not the boast the strongest record, Malawsky said the Riptide are a much better team than that record indicates.
“First and foremost, the thing that jumps out at me is they’re an extremely hardworking team. They work hard on both sides of the ball and their goaltending’s been solid,” said Malawsky.
“They’re a very well-rounded team overall. I don’t think there’s a real weakness I can point out. I just know we’re going to have our hands full.”
With Dane Dobbie still in the press box for one more game while serving his suspension and Jesse King still mending an injury, the return of forward Tyler Pace last game was welcomed. Pace finished the night leading the Roughnecks in scoring with five points (four goals, one assist).
Pace said it felt good to be back on the floor helping his team, but in the end it’s still all about winning.
“It felt great being back in the lineup, especially at home in front of all our fans,” said Pace.
“But for me it’s not really about personal accolades and accomplishments. At the end of the day our team lost, so it was a disappointing evening.”
The Roughnecks power play has been one of the most noticeable areas of struggle so far this season, currently ranked last in the league at just 25.9 per cent efficiency.
With the amount of injuries the team has been dealing with, there’s been a lot of shuffling around of the personnel on the man advantage, which Pace said certainly plays into the power play’s struggles.
But with Dobbie set to return next game, and with him back in the lineup himself, Pace said they’re in a good position to get things straightened out.
“We’ve had guys in and out of the lineup, new guys coming in off of trades, and changing different positions for certain guys, so there hasn’t been any consistency with our power play in terms of who’s actually on the power play,” said Pace.
“Not having Dobbie and King in there hurts. But we’re getting Dobbie back after this game, which will help for sure.”
Uncharacteristic of the Roughnecks, they’ve allowed 27 goals combined in their past two games.
Pace said he believes they still have the best defensive unit and goaltending in the NLL, and said the forward group needs to do a better job helping out defensively moving forward.
“The last couple games we’ve given up maybe six transition goals in each of the games, and that’s just not going to cut it,” said Pace.
“I believe our defence and goaltending is the best in the league, so for us to be giving up opportunities like that because we’re not getting off the floor fast enough is unacceptable. That’s something we’re going to be focused on this weekend and moving forward here.”