Offence firing blanks

DARREN FRIESEN -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:08 AM ET

With the loss of their best defender, one could assume the Calgary Roughnecks' 12-7 season-opening defeat to the Colorado Mammoth was due in large part to poor defence.

On the contrary, it was the lack of offensive production which kept the the Riggers out of the win column.

A failure to bulge the twine in the fourth quarter last weekend in the Mile High city cost the National Lacrosse League defending champs their first two points of the new campaign.

It's something that hasn't been a problem in year's past.

"Last year, our fourth quarters won us games. This year so far, it's lost us a game," said assistant captain Kaleb Toth.

"It was the first game and we were rusty 'cause we didn't get any exhibition games. We were right with them until the fourth quarter. I think we've just got to get into a little better shape and play through."

A freak accident put the Riggers' franchise player Taylor Wray on the sideline with a broken leg while the team was in the midst of its training camp in early December.

At that time, coaches and players expressed concerned as to the effectiveness of their defence for the upcoming season.

However, with the acquisition of players from the now defunct Vancouver Ravens, the Roughnecks were able to solidify a solid d-corps.

Although, judging from their first game, it wasn't the defence that was a concern.

"We just didn't play a team game," said forward Lewis Ratcliff. "Our offence was all over the place and we couldn't get anything going.

"The first game obviously takes some time to play through it.

"After a good practice and another week together hopefully we'll put it together and be better for the next one."

The Roughnecks will try and get things back on track tonight as they return home for their first game since winning the Champion's Cup last spring.

The San Jose Stealth, who were defeated by the Riggers last year in the West Division semifinal, will travel to the 'Dome for their first game of the season.

Before the faceoff at 7:30 p.m., Calgary will have a banner raising and ring presentation, honouring the local side for capturing the title.

"I don't think there's any added pressure because of the banner or ring night," said Ratcliff. "There's just the normal pressure that we put on ourselves to come out and perform the way that we can."

Calgary knows they'll have to be better if they expect to beat the Stealth.

With the loss of some key components during last season's title run, such as Ted Dowling, Tyson Leies, and Grant Hamilton, some of the chemistry has been lost.

However, according to Toth, the off-season changes are something that are part of the game and the Roughnecks are just going to have to find a new camaraderie with this year's squad.

"Everyone always talks about trades and whether they're good for the team or bad for the team," said Toth.

"We did what we had to do. We got some guys that we needed and got rid of some guys that were maybe asking too much.

"The coaches and GM did what they thought was best for the team."


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