NLL Week 2 Team Reports: ‘We’re going to be a lot more accountable and better for that,’ Riggers captain Andrew McBride

Goalie Tye Belanger and the Mammoth hope to even their record after losing their opener. (Photo: Jack Dempsey)
Goalie Tye Belanger and the Mammoth hope to even their record after losing their opener. (Photo: Jack Dempsey)

We’ve got Week 1 of the 2014 National Lacrosse League season in the books, but we’ve yet to see every team. That’ll change when Week 2 is completed this weekend. Just 2 games are on tap, but we’ll get our first look at the Calgary Roughnecks, Toronto Rock and Vancouver Stealth. We’ll get a second look at the Colorado Mammoth, who will be out to avenge their season-opening loss to Edmonton. So are the Roughnecks ready to live up to expectations? Are the Toronto Rock ready to do the same? And will the Vancouver Stealth kick off their new era on the right foot? Only time will tell and we have just a couple of days left until we get our answers. Team Reports for Week 2, after the jump.

Calgary Roughnecks at Toronto Rock

Friday, Jan. 3, 7:30 p.m.
Records: Season opener for both.
Broadcast: YouTube.com/TLN
History: Rock leads all-time series, 16-9 (9-4 in Toronto).

Roughnecks notes

There’s a tangible sense of urgency in Calgary, where the team loaded with veterans know they’ve come up short of expectations in recent seasons. To that end, the Riggers said discipline — an issue in past seasons — will be key. “It’s something we’ve addressed over the last couple of years,” team captain Andrew McBride said. “Maybe we didn’t get the message in previous years, but this year we really need to understand that if you put teams on the power play, you’re going to get burned. We need to understand that lacrosse is a physical game, we are going to take some penalties but let’s take the kind of penalties where we’re working hard and avoid the undisciplined ones like chirping at the referee and taking offensive penalties. We’re going to be a lot more accountable and better for that this year.” … Coach Curt Malawsky is expecting big things from some of the rookie sticks in Tor Reinholdt, Karsen Leung and Garrett McIntosh, who he says all have big engines. “Tor’s compete level is second to none and he brought a lot of that compete to camp and brought a lot of that stuff out of the veteran guys … Karsen has speed to get the ball up and down the floor but even moreso, he’s got the ability to close the gap on the defensive side of it.” … McIntosh, at 6-3, 220 pounds, brings more size and speed to the defense and the trio, with their offensive background as younger players, will help Calgary gain possession when the ball’s on the floor, thereby keeping opponents from multiple possessions … The status of veteran F Scott Ranger has no set timetable for his return as he continues recovery from a broken jaw suffered this summer that put him on injured reserve. He’s on a list for surgery and he and his wife are also expecting a baby. “We’re looking possibly toward the end of the season,” said Malawsky.

Rock notes

Not unlike the Riggers, the Rock are a team built with championship aspirations, but last year’s stunning loss to Minnesota in the first round ended their season early. New coach John Lovell says he may be new, but the expectations for 2014 are not. “I’m familiar with most of the guys so I don’t think a lot of things have changed, really,” the long-time Rock assistant coach said. … Lovell said he likes his team’s speed and believes the Rock transition game will be just fine this year in keeping pace with the new NLL style that’s been emerging. “That’s the way the game is going, and I think we’ve addressed that to a degree but I think Toronto’s transition has been pretty good in past years and I think any team that’s going to be successful this year has to have a good transition game.” … Rock F Garrett Billings said kicking off the season with Calgary is a tall order. “It’s not the best time of year to be playing Calgary but we have to play the hand we’re dealt and be ready on Friday.” … The playoff loss to the Swarm opened eyes in Toronto, but Lovell chalked it up to it being “one of those games that can happen in this league. In terms of addressing it, I think we have, and we’re just moving forward.” … Billings said that as much as the Rock addressed what happened in that game, the NLL did too. “Minnesota kinda caught us off-guard … but this year, going to a series, one game won’t decide the whole thing so you’ll be able to adjust and come back the next night.”

Vancouver Stealth at Colorado Mammoth

Saturday, Jan. 4, 9 p.m.
Records: Season opener for Vancouver/Colorado 0-1.
Last week:Colorado lost at home to Edmonton, 13-10.
Broadcast: YouTube.com/TLN and TSN2.
History: Stealth lead all-time series, 20-11 (Mammoth are 9-7 vs. Stealth in Colorado).

Stealth notes

Coach Chris Hall was pleased with what camp produced and the Stealth are eager to finally get going for real. “Sometimes training camp can drag on. What you’re looking for is game action and we’re ready to get going in Denver on Saturday night,” he said. … Veteran F Lewis Ratcliff said this camp was the best he’s been a part of with the Stealth. “The talent level, with less spots, is unbelievable so nobody’s jobs were secure and guys were going hard.” … Ratcliff watched Week 1 games and echoes the sentiments of many with the emphasis on fitness and quickness. “The biggest thing, you’re going to have to be in shape. The inability to make stupid plays and to turn the ball over and to get into kind of a track meet, you’re going to have to be smarter sometimes and know when to slow it down. You’re not getting a lot of breaks. So if you’re not physically fit and ready to go, you’re not going to be able to keep up.” … Hall said the trade of Bob Snider leave a hole in the faceoff department and the team will start this season with a committee approach to faceoffs. “We’ve been working with 3 or 4 guys … we’re going to move it around a little bit. Most likely, we’re going to lose more than we win but I think we’re just going to battle, hope you can get the ball free and battle for some loose balls in there.” … The Stealth defense comes in with a solid rep, but there’s a tough assignment with an offense featuring John Grant Jr. and Adam Jones. “John Grant Jr. is going to get his points, there’s no doubt about that. What you try to do is limit the number of opportunities he has and try to defend him so he doesn’t have a 10-12 point night on you, which he’s certainly capable of doing. You just have maintain focus in your systems and not give up easy opportunities and you’ve got to be on top of players like that the whole game and make them work hard.”

Mammoth notes

Coach Bob Hamley said the Mammoth are eager for redemption after losing their opener at home last Saturday. “We’re disappointed we couldn’t come up with the win but the good news for us is that we get to get right back at it,” he said. … Mammoth D John Orsen said the smaller rosters came into play with the pace of play and Saturday’s game re-emphasized the need to be in shape. “In the fourth quarter, you saw some guys kinda tire out, but it was fun.” … Even with the fatigue, Orsen said the Mammoth started to come together in the fourth quarter, and that’s what has him optimistic for the future. “In the second quarter, we had a little bit of a lull, but in the fourth quarter things really started to click a bit more on the defensive end. It’s a long season and it does take some time … but there really was a difference from the first quarter to the fourth quarter.” … Nothing really alarming jumped out at Hamley in Saturday’s loss; it’s just a matter of “finding our way. It was a little scrambly at times for both teams. We seemed to make some adjustments in the third quarter to our benefit and play a little better. I think our fitness is good, our gameplan is good. It’s just about gelling and getting comfortable with each other.” … Hamley won’t fault G Tye Belanger, even though he got the hook for rookie Dillon Ward in the second half against Edmonton. “In the first half, we left (Tye) to his own devices, left him high and dry,” said the coach, explaining that they saved a timeout by switching to Ward. “We’ll make the decision at practice as to who we’re going to start. But we’re not unhappy with Tye. We could have been a little better defensively and a little better at stopping their transition. Dillon came in and gave us a chance and that’s all you ask of a guy coming off the bench. It’s a credit to him.”

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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