Heavenor help them

IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:40 AM ET

Maybe a bit of divine intervention will spark the Calgary Roughnecks stagnant offence.

This little ball of energy is Heavenor sent.

Coming off a franchise-tying worst six-goal outing last week, the Roughnecks are forced to do some roster juggling today when they face the San Jose Stealth on the road (2 p.m., Shaw TV).

With captain Tracey Kelusky out due to concussion symptoms, faceoff man and transition player Nolan Heavenor will move up to offence.

The last time the second-year Rigger played up front, he notched a hat-trick in a game described by teammate Lewis Ratcliff as Heavenor's best game ever.

"He can definitely play real well on offence," said Ratcliff, who grew up playing with Heavenor in Victoria.

"He moves very well and he's a 24-7 hyper kid. That's good for our offence because sometimes we stand around too much.

"To add a guy with his energy gets things moving and it's contagious. Seeing him running around gets everybody else running, too.

"Hopefully, that will lead to a little more cutting and getting guys open."

Heavenor is the team's main faceoff man as well, so he is expecting plenty of floor time today.

When he's on his game, Heavenor is a pest battling for loose balls and setting picks.

"When I get on the floor, I'm not a ball carrier, so I bump and grind and try and get some gritty goals," said the 25-year-old. "It's all about creating space and getting my hands free to take a shot. It's a lot easier when I played with Lewis, Curt (Malawsky) and Kaleb (Toth), who are all natural goal-scorers."

When Heavenor was inserted on offence last time, it was because Toth sat out. This time, it's Kelusky who is on the sidelines.

Rather than trying to replace those players, Heavenor is just focusing on playing within his capabilities.

What makes him so valuable to the Roughnecks is he can fill in everywhere but in goal.

"It will be fun this weekend," Heavenor said. "I like getting bounced around a bit. I didn't used to like it, but I'm feeling good about where I am right now because I can play anywhere."

This is an important outing for the Roughnecks (4-7). The winner takes the season series 2-1 and will hold the tie-breaker for playoff positioning. San Jose (5-4) does have two games in hand on the Roughnecks.

With the Edmonton Rush losing 14-9 to the Rock last night in Toronto, the Riggers do have some breathing room to make the post-season.

Even with Kelusky in the lineup last week, the Riggers offence went ice cold in losing 11-6 to the Colorado Mammoth.

But none of the bounces were going Calgary's way, then it got away from pounding hard to the net.

They only scored once after halftime, and that was on a hard-work goal by Malawsky as he created his own loose-ball turnover.

"It's not from a lack of effort that our offence is struggling last week," said Ratcliff, who has 26 goals in 11 games.

"What we're doing now is thinking too much and trying to run the perfect system. A good offence just reacts to what's happening and moves the ball to open areas to finish.

"We were hitting posts and squeezing our sticks.

"We're not in desperation mode yet. We're doing the right things, just not finishing."


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