NLL team reports for Week 4: ‘We need our best players to be our best players.’ – Calgary Roughnecks coach Curt Malawsky

Shawn Evans, left, Geoff Snider and the Roughnecks hit the road in search of their first win. (Photo: Dan Brodie)
Shawn Evans, left, Geoff Snider and the Roughnecks hit the road in search of their first win. (Photo: Dan Brodie)

If it seems like there’s a lot of lacrosse to keep track of this weekend in the National Lacrosse League, it’s because there is. It’s the busiest weekend of the season for the NLL with 7 games. It kicks off tonight with 3 games and 2 of those games are rematches from last weekend. Calgary not only is is looking to avenge an overtime loss to Colorado, it’s also looking for its first win of the season. In Edmonton, the Washington Stealth will be out to avenge an 18-10 loss to the Rush. On Saturday, there are 3 more games as the Toronto Rock and Rochester Knighthawks renew their rivalry. Their last meeting was Rochester’s playoff win in Toronto in May. The weekend concludes with a single game on Sunday as the Calgary Roughnecks make a trip to Philadelphia in what will be Geoff Snider’s first game in Philly since he was traded in 2010. Lots of lacrosse means lots of preparation, and we’ve got that for you, after the jump.

FRIDAY

Minnesota Swarm at Toronto Rock
Friday, January 25 -Air Canada Centre - 7:30 p.m. (EST)

Records: Minnesota Swarm 0-1; Toronto Rock 2-1.
Last week: Swarm did not play; Rock lost to Philadelphia Wings, 8-7, on Saturday.
Broadcast: (TSN in Canada, ESPN3 in U.S., YouTube outside of North America).
History: Swarm leads all-time series, 5-4 (3-2 in Toronto).
Goals for: Minnesota 12 (ranks 9th); Toronto 30 (3rd).
Goals against: Minnesota 13 (1st); Toronto 28 (6th).
Scoring leaders: Minnesota — Ryan Benesch (4 goals, 3 assists for 7 points), Callum Crawford (2-3, 5), Shayne Jackson (3-1, 4); Toronto — Colin Doyle (2-12, 14), Garrett Billings (3-11, 14), Kasey Beirnes (6-4, 10).
League leaders: Minnesota — none. Toronto — Colin Doyle (12 assists), Nick Rose (137 saves, 2 goalie wins (tied)).

Swarm notes

Minnesota is playing its first game since Jan. 12, a 13-12 loss in Buffalo in which the Swarm were outscored 6-3 in the fourth quarter … “It’s kinda tough to lose like that and then have to sit on it,” D Jeff Gilbert said. … Gilbert is playing his first game against the Rock since the Rock traded him in 2011 during the Boston Blazers dispersal draft. “It’s always special for the Toronto-based guys to play in front of family and friends,” he said. “It’s just too bad we don’t get the chance to come back year after year.” … Captain Andrew Suitor won’t be in the lineup as he serves the second game of a 2-game suspension after an incident in the playoffs last May … Assistant coach Aime Caines said the team will continue with its rotation in goal after Evan Kirk played the opener and Tyler Carlson looks for his first action of the season. “We’re not going to show our hand,” he said.

Rock notes

The Rock are talking like goalies, saying they need a short memory after last weekend’s collapse against the Wings. “Philly stung us a bit but the best way forward is to forget it and come out and have a good game against Minnesota,” veteran F Josh Sanderson said … GM and assistant coach Terry Sanderson agrees. “We’d certainly be better off forgetting that one,” he said. “I still felt we had a good game against Philadelphia but credit should go to them for finding a way to come back and beat us.” … Young and fast is what the Toronto Rock expect to see from the Swarm. “They’ve drafted so well the last couple of years and we expect them to push the ball as much, if not more, than us,” Terry Sanderson said … Sanderson said D Damon Edwards (hamstring) should be ready to return to the lineup. “We plan on putting him in,” he said … Josh Sanderson also is anticipating a run-and-gun evening with the Swarm. “They’re young and athletic,” he said. “We have to be ready to take away their transition. It’ll be a tough battle.”

friday

Calgary Roughnecks at Colorado Mammoth
Friday, January 25th -Pepsi Center - 9 p.m. (EST)

Records: Calgary Roughnecks 0-2; Colorado Mammoth 1-1.
Last week: Roughnecks lost to Colorado, 13-12 (OT), on Saturday; Mammoth defeated Roughnecks, 13-12 (OT) , on Saturday.
Broadcast: (Altitude, YouTube).
History: Mammoth lead all-time series, 15-12 (7-5 in Colorado).
Goals for: Calgary 23 (7th); Colorado 26 (5th).
Goals against: Calgary 26 (4th); Colorado 29 (7th).
Scoring leaders: Calgary — Shawn Evans (7-5, 12), Curtis Dickson (3-3, 6), Joe Resetarits (2-4, 6); Colorado — John Grant Jr. (9-5, 14), Gavin Prout (2-10, 12), Adam Jones (3-6, 9).
League leaders: Calgary — Geoff Snider (9 forced turnovers); Colorado — John Grant Jr. (9 goals), Chet Koneczy (17 PIM).

Roughnecks notes

Hitting the road after an 0-2 start, both at home, could be just what the Riggers need. “It’s always good to move on,” coach Curt Malawsky said. “There are a lot of distractions at home … We made some mistakes in the last 4:35 (against Colorado) but they were mistakes forced by them.” … The Riggers have given up 26 goals in their first 2 games, the most since they gave up 29 in the first 2 games of the 2007 season. But it could be worse. Much worse. Calgary gave up a whopping 55 goals in the first 2 games of their expansion season in 2002 (losses of 32-17 and 23-16, both to the Montreal Express) … Calgary gave up 8 goals in the second half to Colorado after surrendering just 4 in the first. “They exposed a lot of things on our defense,” Malawsky said. “But we need our best players to be our best players. We don’t expect to stop them all, but we do have to limit it.” … G Mike Poulin said despite the acrobatic saves he made late in regulation, it wasn’t his best game fundamentally. “I need to control a few more rebounds and if the team gets a few more loose balls, we’ll be alright.”

Mammoth notes

The win makes up for what the Mammoth said was a disappointing effort against Washington 2 weeks ago, but coach Bob Hamley isn’t quite satisfied just yet. “We’re not kidding ourselves,” he said. “We still have a lot of work to do.” … Hamley did like the response of the defense against Calgary, giving up just 1 goal on 11 shots in the fourth quarter that allowed the offense to rally. “We didn’t make a whole lot of adjustments,” he said. “We played with a lot more energy and we want to limit as many chances as we can. But it’s still early and we’re still trying to find our way.” … The offense erased a 12-8 deficit with 4 unanswered goals down the stretch. “We just tried to stay focused on our gameplan,” veteran F John Grant Jr. said of the fourth-quarter rally. “We just stayed the course. We wanted to come down and get the ball in the net and still not give up anything on the other end like we’ve been prone to do … The most important thing about this game is how much heart we showed. That’s very tough to do, to battle back against an excellent team. Hopefully, we can build on this down the road.” … With 12 points through 2 games, veteran F Gavin Prout is on pace for a career-high 96 points this season.

friday

Washington Stealth at Edmonton Rush
Friday, January 25th Rexall Place - 9 p.m. (EST)

Records: Washington Stealth 2-1; Edmonton Rush 1-1.
Last week: Stealth lost to Rush, 18-10, on Sunday.
Broadcast: YouTube.
History: Stealth lead all-time series 11-8 (4-4 in Edmonton).
Goals for: Washington 40 (1st); Edmonton 27 (4th).
Goals against: Washington 43 (9th); Edmonton 20 (3rd).
Scoring leaders: Washington — Cliff Smith (7-9, 16), Rhys Duch (9-6, 15), Kyle Buchanan (1-10, 11); Edmonton — Mark Matthews (7-7, 14), Corey Small (3-9, 12), Ryan Ward (4-7, 11).
League leaders: Washington — Cliff Smith (16 points), Bob Snider (40 loose balls, 70 faceoffs won), Lewis Ratcliff (33 shots on goal); Edmonton – none.

Stealth notes

If Sunday wasn’t a wake-up call, it was at the very least a reality check for the Stealth. “It was a pretty disappointing night for us,” GM Doug Locker said. “We didn’t respond very well. Edmonton has well-balanced scoring and they have very solid goaltending in Aaron Bold.” … The opportunity is not lost on Iannucci. “There’s nothing better than getting your next chance against the team that beat you,” he said. … F Cliff Smith was held to 1 assist after scoring 15 points in his first 2 games … The Stealth defense, with so many new and young players, will have their hands full again with Edmonton rookie Mark Matthews, who dropped 9 points on them Sunday. “He’s a tough player but he’s also got a lot of good offensive players around him,” Locker said. “It makes it a long night for our defense.” … The Rush were 4-for-4 on the power play. “One of our focuses for this weekend is that we’d rather play five-on-five then play a man short,” said Locker. “We’ve got to stay out of the penalty box and do a better job with that. Hopefully the familiarity with playing them six days ago will help.” … If D Curtis Hodgson plays in both games this weekend, he’ll tie Gary Rosyski’s franchise record of 132 games played.

Rush notes

Coach Derek Keenan liked his team’s response following an opening loss to Toronto, by 1 goal. “We regrouped after that tough opening loss and I thought we played pretty well but at the same time we had some luck on our side.” … Veteran F Corey Small said the offense played well against Toronto but didn’t have the consistency it had against Washington, which he thought was the difference in the games … Reaching last year’s title game taught the Rush they have the talent to win, but it also taught them the road to the final doesn’t have to be as much work as it was. “We came into the season with the same mindset but we’ve also learned that an 0-5 start isn’t the best way to go about it,” he said, referring to last season’s slow start. “Losing in the final left a bad taste. We’re eager to have another shot at it.” … Keenan said G Bold is doing what he expects a goalie to do. “He has a good defense in front of him but he’s also making saves and he gives us an opportunity to win games.” … Keenan also is very well aware of what a win like last weekend’s can do for motivation, especially when you play that team again the very next weekend. ”Nobody likes to get beat like that so you just know they’re going to bring it.”

Saturday

Toronto Rock at Rochester Knighthawks
Saturday, January 26th - Blue Cross Arena - 7:30 p.m. (EST)

Records: Toronto Rock 2-1; Rochester Knighthawks 0-2.
Last week: Rock lost to Philadelphia, 8-7, on Saturday; Knighthawks lost to Buffalo Bandits, 14-13, on Saturday.
Broadcast: (TSN2 in Canada, ESPN3 in U.S., YouTube outside of North America).
History: Knighthawks lead all-time series, 19-17 (15-3 in Rochester).
Goals for: Toronto 30 (3rd); Rochester 25 (6th).
Goals against: Toronto 28 (6th); Rochester 27 (5th).
Scoring leaders: Toronto — Colin Doyle (2-12, 14), Garrett Billings (3-11, 14), Kasey Beirnes (6-4, 10); Rochester — Cody Jamieson (2-8, 10), Dan Dawson (1-7), Casey Powell (2-4, 6).
League leaders: Toronto — Colin Doyle (12 assists), Nick Rose (137 saves, 2 goalie wins (tied)); Rochester — none.

Rock notes

Josh Sanderson loves the rivalry against Rochester but admits it’s not easy to play in Rochester. “It’s a different type of barn,” he said. “And they’ve got a pretty stacked offense this year and they have (Matt) Vinc back there too.” … Captain Colin Doyle has a team-leading 14 points (2-12) after 3 games after having just 8 points (4-4) through the first 3 games of last season … Thirteen different players have scored the Rock’s 30 goals this season.

Knighthawks notes

This is such a weird series. The Knighthawks are 15-3 all-time at home against the Rock, but are just 4-14 in Toronto … Coach Mike Hasen said the defense fixed what went wrong in the Week 1 loss to Washington, but mistakes still cost his team against Buffalo. “We did a lot better job in our zone, but Buffalo is a good team and they capitalized on our mistakes.” … Veteran F Casey Powell put up 6 points in his first game of the season and joked about the motivation he’d drawing in. “I figure if a guy as old as Josh Sanderson can play, I can too,” he said. “My body feels good but I know my time is running out. The opportunity to play in Rochester was a perfect scenario, and my goal is to win a championship.” … Powell likes what he’s feeling as far as chemistry goes but did point out it’s still early. “We have a long way to go and I saw a lot of positive things. But Buffalo put a lot of pressre on us and we didn’t handle it as well as we could have.” … Veteran F Mike Accursi was a healthy scratch against Buffalo, and Hasen pointed out that with the talent he has on the roster, he’ll have 2 or 3 tough decisions to make for every game …

saturday

Philadelphia Wings at Buffalo Bandits
Saturday, January 26th - First Niagara Center - 7:30 p.m. (EST)

Records: Philadelphia Wings 2-0; Buffalo Bandits 2-1.
Last week: Wings defeated Rock, 8-7, on Saturday; Bandits defeated Knighthawks, 14-13, on Saturday.
Broadcast: YouTube.
History: Bandits lead all-time series, 23-22 (13-10 in Buffalo)
Goals for: Philadelphia 21 (8th); Buffalo 35 (2nd).
Goals against: Philadelphia 12 (2nd); Buffalo 38 (8th).
Scoring leaders: Philadelphia — Kevin Crowley (7-3, 10 points), Kevin Buchanan (3-6, 9), Jordan Hall (1-6, 7); Buffalo — Shawn Williams (4-11, 15), Dhane Smith (6-4, 10), John Tavares (4-6, 10).
League leaders: Philadelphia — Kevin Crowley (4 power play goals), Brandon Miller (2 goalie wins (tied), 7.50 goals-against average); Buffalo — none.

Wings notes

The Wings were 2-1 against the Bandits last season, going 1-1 in Buffalo … GM and coach Johnny Mouradian readily acknowledges the efforts of G Brandon Miller and the defense in front of him as keys to the team’s 2-0 start. “If we can hold teams to 10 or fewer goals, our defense gives us an opportunity even if we’re struggling a bit on offense,” he said. “We are defense first right now.” … Scoring 8 goals last week was due in part to playing the Toronto defense and also in being without Jordan Hall, who was seving a 1-game suspension. “He’s a marquee player,” said Mouradian. “He’s a big part of our power play. He’ll be back and that’ll help us. Last year we had some injuries on the left side and didn’t have the depth that we needed. But this year we’ve been moving the ball pretty well and moving our feet pretty well. We feel we have a lot more this year.”

Bandits notes

In his first season (in a long time) with the Bandits, veteran F Shawn Williams may have an idea of what to expect from Philadelphia. That, and the teams just played 2 weeks ago. “There are a lot of new faces in the lineup,” he said of Philadelphia’s 13-8 win. “We couldn’t get a flow going. We had some good things going in the fourth quarter but their defense and Brandon Miller were there to shut the door.” … The Bandits have won 2 straight since then and coach Darris Kilgour says it’s because the team is doing one of the simple things it’s asked to do. “We’ve gotten better each quarter,” he said. “We didn’t play well against Philly so we’re looking forward to showing them who the Buffalo Bandits really are.” … Kilgour says the offense this year is much more fluid than it was last season. “The ball is moving a lot better and we’re getting some timely goals,” he said. “But at the same time, the defense is getting better but we still have some mental lapses.”

Saturday

Washington Stealth at Minnesota Swarm
Saturday, January 26th - Xcel Energy Center - 8 p.m. (EST)

Records: Washington Stealth 2-1; Minnesota Swarm 0-1.
Last week: Stealth lost to Rush, 18-10, on Sunday; Swarm did not play.
Broadcast: YouTube.
History: Swarm lead all-time series, 5-3 (5-0 in Minnesota).
Goals for: Washington 40 (1st); Minnesota 12 (9th).
Goals against: Washington 43 (9th); Minnesota 12 (1st).
Scoring leaders: Washington — Cliff Smith (7-9, 16), Rhys Duch (9-6, 15), Kyle Buchanan (1-10, 11); Minnesota — Ryan Benesch (4-3, 7), Callum Crawford (2-3, 5), Shayne Jackson (3-1, 4).
League leaders: Washington — Cliff Smith (16 points), Bob Snider (40 loose balls, 70 faceoffs won), Lewis Ratcliff (33 shots on goal); Minnesota — none.

Stealth notes

The Stealth came crashing back to earth after a 2-0 start to the season, thanks to Edmonton’s defense in an 18-10 win over Washington on Sunday. But the 2-1 record is than the 0-3 hole they were in last season. “Big picture … we’re really happy with what we’re seeing as far as continuity with our players and the young players have really stepped up,” GM Doug Locker said … G Tyler Richards is day-to-day after suffering what Locker said was a lower body injury in the season-opener. “We’re optimistic he’ll be ready to go this weekend,” Locker said. “We’re just being very, very cautious and we’re probably holding him back more than we should because it’s so early in the season.” … The Edmonton D put the brakes on Washington’s quick start, but it’s all about perspective, said veteran F Athan Iannucci. “We’d love to be 3-0 but Edmonton is a good team,” he said. “We just didn’t put a full 60 together.” … Part of that full 60 is being consistent on offense and the Stealth were not that against Edmonton, scoring 10 goals after putting up 13 and 17 in their first 2 games. “We just need to finish,” said Iannucci. “We got some looks (against Edmonton) but we gotta bury and just have to capitalize on the chances we get.”

Swarm notes

D Jeff Gilbert says he and his mates are eager to tackle the challenge that is the Washington O. “They’re one of the most potent offenses in the league,” he said. “It’s a good chance for our defense to show that we can defend one of the best offenses in the game.” … The return of captain Andrew Suitor for this game should be a big boost for the Swarm. “It’s going to be a big uplift,” assistant coach Aime Caines said. “He brings a lot to the table and he’s a big boost for us. He’s champing at the bit to get back.” … The Swarm gave up 5 power-play goals on 8 chances to the Bandits, and area Gilbert said the defense will address, but having Suitor back on the downer until will help as well. “Giving up 5 is never acceptable,” he said.

Sunday

Calgary Roughnecks at Philadelphia Wings
Sunday, January 27th - Wells Fargo Center - 4 p.m. (EST)

Records: Calgary Roughnecks 0-2; Philadelphia Wings 2-0.
Last week: Roughnecks lost to Mammoth, 13-12 (OT), on Saturday; Wings defeated Rock, 8-7, on Saturday.
Broadcast: YouTube.
History: Series tied, 2-2 (1-1 in Philadelphia).
Goals for: Calgary 23 (7th); Philadelphia 21 (8th).
Goals against: Calgary 26 (4th); Philadelphia 12 (2nd).
Scoring leaders: Calgary — Shawn Evans (7-5, 12), Curtis Dickson (3-3, 6), Joe Resetarits (2-4, 6); Philadelphia — Kevin Crowley (7-3, 10 points), Kevin Buchanan (3-6, 9), Jordan Hall (1-6, 7).
League leaders: Calgary — Geoff Snider (9 forced turnovers); Philadelphia — Kevin Crowley (4 power play goals), Brandon Miller (2 goalie wins, 7.50 goals-against average).

Roughnecks notes

Veteran T Geoff Snider plays his first game in Philly since being traded in 2010. He missed Calgary’s 2011 game in Philadelphia with an injury. “I’m excited to get back to Philadelphia,” said Snider. “It is an amazing city with an incredible passion for lacrosse and the NLL. The 4 years I spent in the city were some of the best of my life, and the fans there were an enormous part of that. Obviously we aren’t looking past Colorado on Friday as we need to be prepared to play a very talented Mammoth squad, but I am excited to have the opportunity to play in front of the Philly fans again, it’s a privilege to be able to do so.” … The Riggers will arrive in Philadelphia after having played in Colorado on Friday night, and the shooters will be looking for a way to beat Philadelphia goalie Brandon Miller, who has been playing lights out so far. “He’s a phenomenal competitor and an even better goaltender,” coach Curt Malawsky said. “He’s been the backbone of their team so far.” … The long weekend doesn’t have Malawsky worried about his team’s physical condition. “That’s why we ran two-a-days all through camp. Our guys are conditioned for the long haul,” he said. … The offensive production has been lacking for the Riggers as Curtis Dickson (6 points), Scott Ranger (6) and Jeff Shattler (5) have combined for just 7 goals on 49 shots (14%) …

Wings notes

It’s a rare meeting between these teams as they’re playing each for just the fourth time. The Wings won in 2003 and 2007 but have lost the last 2 games (2010 and 2011) by a combined 28-14 … Wings GM and coach Johnny Mouradian is more than willing to put his team’s 2-0 mark up against any team out there, but he’s also cautious of a wounded Calgary team. “They’ve lost some tough ones,” he said. “But they’ll get back on track. Everybody does in the NLL. We have to be prepared to play with the same type of aggressiveness and control our emotions.” … F Kevin Buchanan has 9 points (3-6) through 2 games. “Kevin is really off to a good start,” said Mouradian. “He’s really blossoming as a player and we’re really happy with what he brings to our team.”

Chavez is an avid lacrosse player in Rochester and a journalist for the Democrat and Chronicle as well as a longtime Inside Lacrosse contributor. Email him at bob.chavez@nllinsider.com or go to RochesterSports.com.

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