Frank Scigliano returns to Calgary.
Only this time, he will be between the pipes for the San Diego Seals when they face the Calgary Roughnecks for the first time Friday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
After spending seven seasons with the Roughnecks, there will be no shortage of familiarity between Scigliano and the Roughnecks shooters, and vice versa.
“I would just call it a wash. Scigliano’s familiar with our shooters and our shooters are familiar with him,” said head coach Curt Malawsky.
“He’s a big-time goalie and always rose to the occasion for us, and I don’t expect him to do any different for them.”
This will be just the second game in the NLL for the Seals as they were one of two expansion teams to join the league this season.
But despite their expansion team tag, Malawsky said they prove to be a stiff test on paper, and one they aren’t taking lightly.
“When you look at their roster from top to bottom, they have a really nice NLL team,” said Malawsky.
“They have some great veteran leadership in Brodie Merrill and Dan Dawson, the first overall pick in Austin Staats, a world-class goaltender in Scigliano, and they have a lot of guys that compete real hard out the back end and have been in the league.”
Over their first two games, the Roughnecks have done a solid job of staying out of the penalty box, accumulating only 20 PIM so far on the season.
Malawsky said the team has been mentally disciplined so far, not putting the officials in a position to have to make discretionary calls.
“We’re sticking to the two-hand tough defence, and living off the cross check. We’re eliminating a lot of those slashing penalties and one-handed holds,” said Malawsky.
“The guys have made a conscious effort of playing with two hands on their stick and just grinding the cross check.”
The Roughnecks have played the first two games without two of their biggest offensive contributors from last season, Curtis Dickson and Wesley Berg, and could be without their services for a third straight game Friday.
In their absence, players like Dane Dobbie, Rhys Duch and Tyler Pace have filled the void admirably, combining for 42 points so far.
Pace is coming off a rookie season where he posted 19 points (six goals, 13 assists) in 13 games, and is now on pace to crush those totals with 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in two games this season.
“It’s been nice. I’m seeing the ball a lot more with those two guys missing,” said Pace.
“Obviously, we’d love to have them back. Our team’s better with them in the lineup than without them, but guys have been forced to take on different roles and I’ve been fortunate enough to have the ball on my stick quite a bit.”
While the Roughnecks have been led by Dobbie’s 16 points (nine goals, seven assists) this season, the Seals’ highly-touted rookie, Staats, leads the way for them with nine points (five goals, four assists) in just one game.
Pace said one of their keys to victory will be doing all they can to slow down Staats, who’s proven his rookie tag is irrelevant.
“Nine points in his first game, and he’s got plenty more left in him,” said Pace.
“You’re not going to stop him from getting on the scoreboard, but if you can slow him down, minimize his numbers, and maybe frustrate him a little bit, I think we’ll be able to succeed defensively.”