Former frequent flyer settles in for title run

DARREN FRIESEN -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:36 AM ET

Taylor Wray is treating this season like he would one of his teaching sessions: Get everyone on the same page.

Wray, a full-time coach at the National Sport Academy, is hoping his Calgary Roughnecks can ace chemistry this year.

"In the past two seasons we've been so inconsistent," said Wray. "The year that we won the championship, it just seemed like everyone was on the same page.

"We came together at the right time and I don't think we've had quite that same feeling on this team for the past two seasons.

"It's almost like we were just expecting that chemistry to happen and it never really came to fruition but, I think this year with having the exhibition games and having the amount of guys here in town, it just feels like the team has come together early.

"I think that will make a big difference down the road."

Wray and the Roughnecks will start the 2007 campaign Friday as they host the San Jose Stealth (7:30 p.m., Saddledome).

For Wray, this will be the first year he's lived in Calgary during the season, something the 6-ft., 2-in., 230-lb. defender said should help contribute to the team chemistry, especially with so many new faces.

"I think that being here in town, it's so much easier to take a leadership role on the team.

"It's tough when you're flying in and you're not at every practice and the guys that are in Calgary are running twice a week and they don't see me there with them for the past three years.

"To be able to be around the guys and the team and not miss any team functions or team runs has made a big difference for me. It's made me a lot more comfortable this season," added the Roughnecks assistant captain, who was based in North Carolina the last three years.

As for taking the floor with so many new players, Wray believes all the tools are in place.

"I think that we're going to have another great year," explained Wray. "We lost a couple of great teammates and great players in the off-season but we made some great additions. I think that, in terms of our personnel, we've got younger and a little bit faster than we have been in the past.

"One of things that we've really focused on is increasing our transition game and it's that new personnel that will make that happen."

As the anchor of the Roughnecks defence, Wray, who was the 2003-04 co-defender of the year, is going to be expected to lead that resurgent transition game.

That said, the 25-year-old Edmonton native doesn't expect his role to change too much.

"We've always given our defence, for the most part, the green light to run the floor," he said. "But now that we've added some more offensive-minded defenceman like Kerry Susheski, Jeff Shattler and Nolan Heavenor, I think we'll see some more three on twos coming out of our end."


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