The first of four meetings between the Stealth and Roughnecks features both teams having identical 1-2 records three games into the 2016 National Lacrosse League season. The Stealth walk into the Scotiabank Saddledome coming off a 14-5 loss to the Colorado Mammoth at the Langley Events Centre last Saturday night. This is not the first time they will look to redeem themselves after a tough home loss, as they went through this same scenario on January 9 after dropping their season opener at the LEC to New England.
“I am confident that we can bounce back tomorrow night. We have a good team and feel like if we go out and play like we did against Saskatchewan a few weeks back, we should be just fine,” said veteran Jeff Moleski.
“After what happened last week at home, we are pretty excited to get back at it. The rivalry against Calgary is always good and it seems like the boys are a little extra fired up for this one,” said Tyler Garrison.
The Stealth offense will see Garrett Billings return to the line-up after missing the previous game with a lower body injury. After putting up just five goals against Colorado, offensive coach Kaleb Toth feels he will provide a big boost.
“Garrett is a dynamic player that has great vision out on the floor and demands a lot of attention. I felt last game we were too stagnant and were not moving the ball around enough and he will definitely help us in that area,” said Toth, who spent 11 seasons in a Roughneck uniform and has his number retired by the franchise.
The Roughnecks should be fresh as they are coming off their bye week. After losing to Saskatchewan and Buffalo, they went into New England and edged the Black Wolves 9-8 on January 15 to earn their first win of the campaign. The ‘Riggers are a squad that has seen a fair share of turnover on their roster during the off-season, with the biggest subtraction being league MVP Shawn Evans. They are currently going through a youth movement to boot, as they carry five rookies on their active roster, which includes fourth overall pick Wesley Berg.
“They have some new pieces on offense this year, but still have their three core pieces (Dickson, Dobbie, Shattler). It seems like they are zipping the ball around pretty good and look like they are quicker. It will be a newer look for us to defend against after playing against the same group of guys for the past couple of seasons and we will have to adjust to them quickly,” said Garrison.
Last season the Stealth and ‘Riggers played each other very close. Both won two games a piece, but the biggest match-up went in favour of Calgary in the final game on May 2, 2015 at the Langley Events Centre. The scenario was simple: win and go to the playoffs and it was the visiting Roughnecks who came away with a 14-13 victory.
All-time, the Stealth franchise carries a winning record of 10-7 at the Scotiabank Saddledome. Last year, both teams won a game each in Calgary and scored plenty of goals with a combined total of 61 in the two games.
The game begins at 6:00pm PST and is the first nationally televised game of the season for the Stealth with it airing on TSN5. The game is also available on TSN GO and WatchESPN (USA viewers only). On the radio, the game can be heard live on TSN1410 and online at www.tsn1040.ca.