Roughnecks rested, relaxed

DARREN FRIESEN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:54 AM ET

Traditionally, the Calgary Roughnecks have turned it up a notch following a lengthy all-star break.

Take last season for instance. The Riggers won two straight and then went 3-3 down the stretch.

Seasons past have been much the same and according to Kaleb Toth, the reason for the post all-star success is simple:

A happy home life.

"Guys just get mentally and physically refreshed. They get time to stay home and keep their families happy," said Toth.

"It's one of those things where the wife's all upset because you're not home that much but then you stay home for a couple weeks and she's happy again. When the family's happy, your happy."

Right now all the Roughnecks have a renewed sense of enthusiasm and it's not just because they've spent the past three weeks healing wounds and playing with the kids.

Instead, tonight's game against the Arizona Sting marks a new era in the history of the franchise.

Jeff Dowling, a former assistant coach with the Riggers, returns to the bench for his first stint as a head coach in the NLL.

Dowling replaces Chris Hall, who was fired after a

12-9 loss to the Toronto Rock Feb. 23 at the 'Dome.

Surprisingly, the Roughnecks went to Toronto the following night and beat the Rock 17-13, which is the last time the team took the floor.

Toth insists that win in combination with the break and a new coach should be enough motivation to have success in the second half.

"It seems every time this team has a big break we come out stronger," he said. "For the past three seasons following the all-star break we usually do really well.

"We're very confident," adds Toth. "We feel good and we definitely want to win this game. We're looking to get into second place and if we do and we stay there, then we'll get to host a playoff game.

"I think a lot of guys are going to play hard (tonight) because they'll be trying to impress their new coach."

Dowling, who was the director of player personnel for the expansion New York Titans when he was hired by the Roughnecks, said it's going to take some time to get used to the new faces but he's already got a grasp on the team he's taken over.

"I know they're a great group that can be very dynamic at times," he said.

"I think at times they've just gotten away from some of the little things and the goaltending has been good but not stellar.

"But there's a lot of potential and the goal is to get back to the NLL championship."

Dowling's been monitoring the Roughnecks' progress this season but since his hiring, he's been watching video of all their games.

In addition, he's contacted some of the Roughnecks -- including Toth -- to get their feedback.

As for tonight's game, the Rigs (5-4) could move into a tie with the Sting (6-3) for second with a win.

"We play the Sting three of last seven games of the season, so this game is definitely a must win for us," said Toth. "We have to win this series in order to hopefully lock up second place."


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