Calgary Herald

Riggers preaching patience during rough patch

- KRISTEN ODLAND KODLAND@CALGARYHER­ALD.COM FOLLOW KRISTEN ODLAND ON TWITTER/KO_HERALD

There’s no reason to hit the panic button here

GEOFF SNIDER

They had just been blown out 19-14 by the defending National Lacrosse League champions.

It was the worst performanc­e by the Calgary Roughnecks defence since a 19-13 loss to Portland back in 2008. The loss dropped them to 2-2 in a short, 16-game NLL season.

All of which added up to a playersonl­y, post-game debrief session. The message? “Not to panic,” said Roughnecks captain Andrew McBride of the team chat following last Saturday’s slugfest loss to the Washington Stealth. “NLL games can get blown out of proportion because there’s only 16 games. Sometimes they’re stinkers. Stuff happens. Defence was awful. We let Pouly (goalie Mike Poulin) out to dry. It was a crappy game on our end. There’s no point sulking. No point yelling at teammates. No point yelling at coaches or the ownership.

“We’ve just kind of gotta shake it off and figure out what we need to do to be successful.”

That’s been the name of the game all year for the 2009 and 2004 NLL champions.

The Roughnecks started the season fast and furious, rattling off 10-9 and 13-11 wins over Buffalo and Washington.

Defensivel­y, they were top-notch in an 8-7 loss to Colorado — only allowing one goal in the second half and in the final seconds of the game.

But against Washington, the wheels fell off. McBride and the Riggers’ defensive unit let in eight goals in the fourth quarter alone.

“The offence changed a few things in the game against Colorado,” McBride said. “Now, it’s the defence’s turn to shape up.

“It just seemed like we couldn’t get stops. It was literally a stinker.

“We can’t get down. We have to keep the positives. In this league, it’s easy to get down. You read the papers, everyone’s getting all over you. “We’ve just gotta relax and play.” On the surface, this weekend would appear to be a breeze: a home-andhome series against the winless Edmonton Rush, beginning tonight at Rexall Place and shifting to the Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday (7:30 p.m.).

However, the Roughnecks are heading into hostile territory against the 0-3 team that knocked them out of the 2010 NLL playoffs.

Not only are they desperate for a win, it’s Edmonton’s first home game after opening the 2011 campaign on the road.

Rush captain Brodie Merrill, the NLL’s top transition player of the week, had a three-goal, five-point performanc­e in a 9-8 loss to the Minnesota Swarm.

Currently, they are the lowestscor­ing group in the NLL with 22 goals. On Thursday, they also added firepower in Scott Evans from the Rochester Knighthawk­s in exchange for Rory Glaves, who put up 45 goals and 42 assists in 2007.

However, the Riggers have their own matters to deal with.

“There’s no reason to hit the panic button here,” assured Roughnecks transition player Geoff Snider. “We’re still tied for first in the division. Yeah, (last) game sucked but there was some good things that happened . . .

“We’re going in looking to win a lacrosse game . . . the guys are focused on one thing.”

BRIEFLY: According to Roughnecks general manager and president Brad Banister, four different groups have expressed interest in purchasing the franchise . . . none of which are based in Calgary. “It’s really sad,” he said. “From what I understand, there are a few people interested in the city but for whatever reason, they don’t want to take on this challenge. Maybe people don’t realize it’s an option that this team won’t be here next year. Obviously, things could change but right now, unfortunat­ely the only people that have shown interest are not in this city.”

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