After dropping the first game of the season, the Calgary Roughnecks got themselves back on track as they won their next three games following the loss.
The Roughnecks went on to drop their fifth game to the NLL defending champions, Saskatchewan Rush, but were still in the hunt for first place at the beginning of February.
“In those three wins, we played a full 60 minutes like we need to do to be successful,” said head coach Curt Malawsky.
“There’s some areas we obviously still need to work on, but there’s also a lot of areas we did very well, which we need to build on.”
Malawsky said a big part of the early success is getting contribution from every player on the offensive side, and not having to rely on few players to put the ball in the net.
“It’s been offense by committee,” said Malawsky.
“I just think everyone’s been doing their jobs, which is the reason for the outcome in our three wins.”
One area plaguing the Roughnecks so far is penalties.
Malawsky said they really need to focus on keeping their emotions in check to avoid taking the unnecessary penalties and avoid getting involved in the “extracurricular activities” that go on.
“There’s certain types of penalties I’m okay with, like the hard working ones, but the lazy penalties are the ones we need to clean up,” said Malawsky.
“The key to our success going forward will be to eliminate those undisciplined, unwanted penalties.”
Roughnecks defender Scott Carnegie said in all three wins, they got off to good starts in the game, as opposed to their losses where they started slow, which is going to be a key focus for the season.
“Going forward, our starts are going to be crucial and kind of set the tone for the game,” said Carnegie.
“We need to continue to start well, taking the one shift at a time approach.”
Carnegie said the offseason acquisition of forward Riley Loewen has been a big help to the team. He expects Loewen to continue playing a key role going forward.
“He’s one of those guys that knows how to win and has won before with his former team [Saskatchewan Rush],” said Carnegie.
“He’s able to lead by his play and by example.”
One of the highlights is Jeff Shattler. He’s become the Roughnecks’ all-time leading scorer in a 12-8 home win over the Colorado Mammoth on Jan. 28.
“It’s a great honour to be up there with guys like Kaleb Toth and Tracey Kelusky,” said Shattler.
“It was a complete blessing to be able to do it in front of our fans, and my family that flew in. It was just a great night all around.”
I just think everyone’s been doing their jobs, which is the reason for the outcome in our three wins. -Curt Malawsky
Going forward with the season, Shattler said he hasn’t been this excited about a ‘Necks’ roster since the last championship team in 2009.
“We have a lot of young guys with a lot of speed and who bring a lot of diversity to our team,” said Shattler.
“There’s a different feeling in the dressing room this year. Everyone wants to win.”