After holding in 14 years of pent-up excitement to watch professional lacrosse in downtown Vancouver, the thousands of fans in attendance at Rogers Arena created a wild, deafening atmosphere that helped push the Vancouver Warriors in front of the Calgary Roughnecks… at least for the first twenty minutes.
The energy from fans at the get-go was palpable. It was expected to make a difference on the club’s performance and forward Mitch Jones clearly felt the crowd gave an extra boost to their effort.
“It was great!” Jones said. “When we went out to that 6-3 lead, you could feel that the fans know lacrosse around here; they’re excited to be here. I’ve been playing in this league for I think seven years now, and when home teams lose its mojo, it’s tough to keep the crowd going. That’s not on them, that’s on us.”
Much like their start in the season-opener in Calgary last week, the Warriors rushed out to 6-3 lead. The crowd rose to their feet, the bench went wild, but the goal scoring and focus couldn’t last.
“We got a little undisciplined,” Warriors head coach Chris Gill said. “They put three goals in the back of our net, but we have to be the most disciplined team on the floor every game and we weren’t tonight. The result is pretty obvious: If we’re undisciplined, we’re not going to win games.”
Late in the 1st period, the team’s former star, Rhys Duch scored his 900th career point. It came as an assist to Tyler Pace just six minutes into the game. On the night, Duch completely scorched his old club racking up 10 points (2 goals and 8 assists).
From early in the 2nd quarter until the final buzzer sounded, the Roughnecks outscored the Warriors 11-2. While it was a disappointing loss for the Warriors, the team’s leading scorer through two weeks, Logan Schuss, (13 points) acknowledged that the visitor’s talented roster outplayed them.
“They’re a great team,” Schuss said. “We think that every team in this league is strong. We’ve got to continue pressuring where we think that’s our strongest points. They have a great backend and they can transition the ball really well. And, their offence can put the ball in the net. You can’t have any lapses in this game. For 30 seconds or a minute, they can score two or three goals quickly. We’ve got to play a full 60 [minutes].”
In the 2nd half, the Warriors were outscored 8-2, outshot 29-18, and collected eight more penalties minutes in that span with 12 alone coming in the final frame. Eventually the team would be handed a 14-8 lose to bring their record to 1-1 on the young campaign. But, the 16 total PIM didn’t bother Gill as much as other aspects of the team’s game.
“The guys are just trying to work hard there,” Gill said. “A couple [penalties] were too many men and one was because someone threw a sock on the floor and we got a bench minor. So, I’m not too concerned with those penalties. It’s more [about] discipline with the ball, ball pressure, turning the ball over.”
Despite the tough loss, the team isn’t feeling discouraged as they look forward to their next game.
“We’re going to bounce back,” Jones said. “We had a 6-3 lead and it kind of unraveled from there. We’re going to go through ebbs and flows in every game and we never really regained [ourselves] in the 2nd half.”
“We’ve got to watch some film, go back and see what our mistakes were and see how we can be better.”
The Warriors now have until next Friday to prepare for Corey Small and the Buffalo Bandits on December 28th at 7:30 EST. Eyes will be on Jones and Small as they go head-to-head for the first time since switching franchises much like eyes were on Duch in his return to Vancouver.