Riggers' Veltman fired up

WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:11 PM ET

Everything you’ve heard about Philadelphia’s sports fans is true.

Rowdy. Ruthless. Maybe a bit rude.

At least, that’s what Calgary Roughnecks forward Daryl Veltman has experienced in his previous trips to the so-called City of Brotherly Love.

“They definitely bring an intense, I almost want to say hatred, for the other team,” Veltman said.

“It’s great as an opponent walking into that arena because you kind of thrive on that enthusiasm and that excitement. Whether the crowd is going for you or going for the other team, everybody feeds off that enthusiasm. It’s a very electric place to play.”

After almost two weeks of off-the-floor distractions, the cash-strapped Roughnecks return to action for Saturday’s clash with the homestanding Wings (5 p.m., nll.com). While the Riggers haven’t paid a visit to Philly since 2003, Veltman will be hitting the floor at the Wells Fargo Center for the fifth time in just three National Lacrosse League campaigns.

Maybe the electric atmosphere will give the Riggers forward a much-needed offensive jolt. Heading into Saturday’s showdown, Veltman has racked up eight goals and nine assists in four career outings in Philly. Those are the type of numbers the Riggers expected when they acquired the 25-year-old lefty from the Boston Blazers in the off-season blockbuster that sent Josh Sanderson to Beantown.

But in six appearances for the Roughnecks so far, Veltman has registered only two goals and a dozen assists. After averaging 4.7 points per game in two campaigns with the Blazers, he’s only averaging half that many in his first season with the Roughnecks.

“We expect a big night out of Darryl and I know he expects a big night out of himself. It’s a good place for him to play,” said Riggers assistant coach Curt Malawsky. “You don’t turn into a bad lacrosse player overnight and Daryl Veltman is a great lacrosse player. There are ups and downs in this game and high and lows, and he’s in a bit of a low, but he’s working on it and the outcome will take care of itself. We’re very confident in his ability.”

Veltman, too, still boasts confidence in his sniping skills, but the former first-overall pick has also embraced Calgary’s offence-by-committee approach. After all, the Riggers are sitting atop the NLL’s West Division standings.

“Every game, I start to feel a little more comfortable with the guys,” Veltman said. “It’s always important to get those first couple, get the monkey off your back. But as long as we’re winning and other guys around me are putting the ball in the net, it’s not necessarily important for me to score. As long as we’re getting the opportunities to score, I think that’s more important.”

wes.gilbertson@sunmedia.ca


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