Turnover ratio

TY PILSON -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:56 AM ET

If the Calgary Roughnecks learned anything from their season opener, it's that this team will need some time to gel.

The Riggers opened defence of their NLL championship last Saturday night with a 12-7 road loss to the Colorado Mammoth.

But after turning over more than 30% of the roster, this year's edition of the Riggers has been overhauled via trades, retirement and releases.

Gone are Ted Dowling, Tyson Leies, Grant Hamilton, Rob Kirkby, Brad MacArthur and Matt King.

To top it off, rookie of the year and co-defensive player of the year, Taylor Wray, is expected to be sidelined for the first eight games of 2005 after breaking his leg while training in November.

Calgary did an admirable job acquiring talent to replace what they lost, adding Chris Gill, Andy Ogilvie, Andrew Biers, Ryan McNish, Andrew Leyshon and Rob Williams.

Still, talent alone doesn't replace chemistry, which the Roughnecks displayed during their Champion's Cup run.

"Last year, we came together and played as a team at the right time," said assistant captain Kaleb Toth.

"We gelled together and we didn't have one guy who was going to score 100 points for us or one guy who was going to anchor our back end.

"Everyone pitched in and did what they had to do and everyone played their roles. When you have a group of guys that just play their roles and don't try to do too much, just do their jobs, that's what championship teams are based on."

The trick now is to recapture that.

GOALTENDING: The play of starter Curtis Palidwor during the regular season and through the playoffs was one of the main reasons the Roughnecks were able to win their first Champion's Cup.

The 5-ft. 11-in., 190-lb. Palidwor posted an 8-5 record in the regular season and finished with the league's third-best save percentage at .770 along with a GAA of 11.40.

In the playoffs, he turned it up another notch making 142 saves in three post-season victories, including a 43-save performance in the final against Buffalo to earn the game MVP award.

Palidwor returns this season having proved to the rest of the league he's a legitimate starter in the NLL who can backstop a team to a championship.

But he will have to be on top of his game again this year if the Roughnecks want to claim back-to-back titles. Andrew Leyshon will assume the back-up role after Matt King was selected in the expansion draft by the Minnesota Swarm.

OFFENCE: The Riggers have always had no shortage of players who can score and last season was no different.

Calgary's 13.4 goals a game average was second in the league behind Colorado. The team's five offensive starters -- Lewis Ratcliff (71), Tracey Kelusky (69), Ted Dowling (65), Kaleb Toth (60) and Jason Wulder (59) -- all scored more than 50 points, quite an impressive feat.

Dowling -- who with 38 markers was the team's top goalscorer -- decided to retire after the season leaving a hole on the crease. However, the addition of Chris Gill, a free agent who played the last three seasons in Vancouver, should help ease Dowling's departure.

Gill has 384 points in 106 games, including a 53-goal campaign in 2002.

"Their offence seems to be pretty potent over the last few years and they're only getting better," said Gill.

DEFENCE: With Taylor Wray sidelined and Rob Kirkby traded to the Arizona Sting, Calgary starts the season without their top two defenders from last year. The release of Brad MacArthur and the absence of Grant Hamilton (job commitment) further worsened the situation.

The signing of free agent NLL veteran Andy Ogilvie and the full-time commitment to play this year of Craig Gelsvik helped shore up Calgary's back end.

Newcomers Ryan McNish and Rob Williams along with returnees like Jesse Phillips and Andrew McBride will be expected to step up their games both on defence and transition. Brad MacDonald, the team's second-round pick in 2003, should also have an expanded role.

In the face-off circle, second-year player Devan Wray will take the majority of the team's draws this year after the departure of MacArthur and Kirkby, who were the No. 1 and No. 2 guys last season.


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