Sharing ball, keeping cool helps Roughnecks roll to second straight win, plus the links

The Roughnecks traded plenty of words with the Stealth, but maintained their composure on Saturday. (Photo: Brad Watson)
The Roughnecks traded plenty of words with the Stealth, but maintained their composure on Saturday. (Photo: Brad Watson)

The Calgary Roughnecks have won consecutive National Lacrosse League games and it really shouldn’t surprise them. After all, they’re finally doing what coach Curt Malawsky has been asking them to do: Share the ball and maintain composure. Saturday’s 20-9 victory over the Vancouver Stealth was, by all accounts, Calgary’s most complete game of the season. They were whistled for just 18 PIM, and 12 of those came in the fourth quarter when the game was out of hand. They also had 30 assists on 20 goals with 4 players registering 3 goals or more. “You can always get better, but we played a hell of a game,” Calgary forward Shawn Evans told the Calgary Sun.

“From the defence to the offence to the goaltending, we moved the ball, swung the ball, and with the talent we have on our offence, the ball is going to find the back of the net. It was great to see.”

It was just a couple of weeks ago that Malawsky called out his offense to reporters, saying they were selfish. Too many one-on-ones, too many heroes trying to get it done by themselves. He preached a return to fundamentals like the team concept of sharing and swinging the ball. The result has been an offensive unit that’s scored 35 goals in the last 2 games.

“We had a huge video session and he reamed us all out and told us we’re all selfish, we’re all selfish players, and it was true,” Evans said. “Since we’ve moved the ball and spread that floor out, we’re getting open looks and we’re all moving well.”

The discipline factor is nothing new in Calgary. Malawsky’s been harping on that since last season and he said recently that the leaders in the locker room made a promise that the issue was addressed. It appears they weren’t kidding. The Riggers have averaged just 13 PIM over the last 2 games after averaging 22.6 PIM through the first 5 games.

And while the scoresheet will show fighting majors in the fourth quarter for Greg Harnett and Travis Cornwall, reality will show 2 Calgary players who didn’t take the bait in a lopsided game.

Still, the teams have 2 more games against each other this season, and whether or not tempers will cool in time for the games on March 21 and April 26 remain to be seen. The only thing Malawsky is looking at is how his team handled itself on Saturday.

“They handled it exactly how I told them to handle it,” he told the Calgary Sun. “ … We’re up by 11 goals and we’ll decide when it’s time to fight. You’re not going to walk into our rink and pick spots. There’ll be a time and a place when that stuff needs to get addressed, but (Saturday) wasn’t the night. What comes around goes around. I believe in the karma side of everything … if that’s the way they want to play, I can’t answer why they did it. You might want to ask them why they did that.”

plus the links

Heading into the weekend, Rochester coach Mike Hasen said he wasn’t worried about an offense that had scored just 7 and 9 goals in each of its last 2 games. He said the work and execution was there, but the shots weren’t falling. But they fell in Saturday’s 17-9 win over the Rock. “(Goal scoring) is not an issue for us because we do so many little things well. We get a lot of opportunities and they were finally falling tonight,” said Hasen. (NLL.com) … As for the Rock, they know it’s a game of runs. They had a 3-0 run in the second quarter to take a 7-5 lead, but Rochester responded with a 4-0 run, including 3 goals in the final minute of the second to take a 9-7 lead into halftime. And when Rochester opened the third with 7 straight goals, it was too much for the Rock to overcome. “The game got away from us. We weren’t able to turn the tide when they went on their run. If you make a mistake they will burn you,” said Colin Doyle. (Toronto Sun) … At 7-0, the Edmonton Rush have found plenty of ways to win games but coach Derek Keenan liked the Edmonton’s production in transition in Saturday’s 14-9 road win over Minnesota. “I thought we did some really good things on offence, but we also got a bunch of goals on transition.“Minnesota is a very good transition team themselves and I think we proved tonight that we can be pretty good at that game as well,” said Keenan. (Edmonton Sun) … The Minnesota Swarm are 1-6 with Saturday’s loss to Edmonton, a record that speaks for itself. “The coaches said afterward that the only solution is within our dressing room right now, and we have to find that solution,” said Callum Crawford. (MNSwarm.com) … Buffalo’s win over Philadelphia not only redeemed a Week 1 loss to the Wings, it gave the Bandits 6 wins to match last year’s season total. And as far as coach Troy Cordingley goes, Saturday’s game may have been the most complete of the season. “I thought it was 60 minutes of good team lacrosse. The goals that were scored were well earned. We controlled the ball. … We were good at both ends of the field. Guys were banging all night,” said Cordingley. (Buffalo News) … The Wings have lost 3 straight after their 3-3 start, and coach Blane Harrison isn’t using ‘American’ or ‘youth’ as an excuse after Saturday’s loss in Buffalo. He’s looking at a combined line of 3 goals on 28 shots from top scorers Kyle Buchanan (2-7), Ryan Ward (0-4), Jordan Hall (0-7) and Kevin Crowley (1-8). “When your best players don’t play like the best players, you can expect that kind of result. We’re not happy with it,” said Harrison. (NLL.com).

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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