Riggers net weekly honours

WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:19 AM ET

CALGARY - The pre-season chatter was all about the departures.

Turns out a couple of returnees stole the show for the Calgary Roughnecks on the first weekend of National Lacrosse League action.

Sniper Scott Ranger was named the NLL’s offensive player of the week Wednesday morning, while starting netminder Mike Poulin was named the top defensive contributor after backstopping the revamped Riggers to back-to-back victories.

“We’re the heavy underdogs for the year, I think,” Ranger said.

“You never want to hear your team get trash-talked or bad-talked, so maybe some of us had a little edge this weekend, and I think that definitely helped certain guys play a little better. I think that had something to do with it.

I hope the rest of the teams in the league continue to think that we’re going to be a bad team.”

Many insiders figured the Roughnecks would struggle this season, but Dave Pym’s posse proved them wrong — at least for now — with victories over the Buffalo Bandits and defending champion Washington Stealth on opening weekend.

Ranger scored five times in Calgary’s season-opener, leading the hosts to a 10-9 triumph over former Roughnecks captain Tracey Kelusky and the rest of the Bandits, then notched the game-winner less than 24 hours later in a 13-11 road win over the Stealth.

Ranger has six goals and four assists so far and ranks third on the NLL’s point-production charts.

“It’s going to sound cliche, but the only points that matter at the end of the weekend are on the team side,” Ranger said.

“But it’s definitely an honour to get recognized by the league.”

At the other end of the floor, Poulin showed that he deserved the starting job, stopping 93 shots in the Roughnecks’ back-to-back wins.

Through two games, Poulin boasts a 10.00 goals-against-average and .778 save percentage despite meetings with two of the NLL’s most dangerous offensive units.

Toronto Rock teammates Bob Watson (overall player of the week) and Aaron Pascas (top rookie) were also honoured Wednesday among the best on opening weekend, while Paul Rabil of the Stealth was feted as the top transition player.

For Ranger, it’s a good way to start what he hopes is a career-best campaign.

The 27-year-old righty has averaged 1.49 goals per game over his four seasons with the Roughnecks, but he’s putting pressure on himself to be a more dependable offensive contributor this winter.

“I’m looking, personally, to be a little more consistent this year. I think I owe that to myself and owe that to my teammates — to try to find that three-goal mark each night,” Ranger said.

“I know I can do it and I know the coaching staff believes in me, and I know my teammates believe in me. I’ve got quite a bit more confidence right now for some reason, and I’m just going to play my butt off and try to play every shift the same way.”

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