Roughnecks need to stop Groundhog Day-type losing skid

Losses happening over and over and over again for NLL club, with latest coming Friday night to Riptide

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Six more weeks of this losing stuff?

That would put the Calgary Roughnecks in quite the hole.

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Having Groundhog Day happen again and again and again — after losing Friday night to the New York Riptide — would certainly put them in a dark place for the rest of the National Lacrosse League season.

“It’s unfortunate the losses are kind of stacking up a little bit right now,” said Roughnecks captain Jesse King after Friday night’s affair — an 11-10 drop to the New York Riptide — dealt them a third-straight defeat.

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“We need to try and turn the page here,” continued King. “We need to kind of flip the script on how our season is going so far.”

In particular, it’s about making sure Groundhog Day doesn’t turn into Groundhog Weekend, as they come back out Saturday night at the Dome for another home game hoping it’s not the same as Friday evening’s decision.

The loss over the Riptide (4-4) shoved the Roughnecks (2-4) into a deep hole on the NLL campaign.

So they need to dig deep Saturday, when they make a quick return to Scotiabank Saddledome to play the incoming Toronto Rock (5-1) on WestJet Field (7 p.m., TSN).

“Yeah … we’re going to turn the page and get ready for Toronto,” said a frustrated Josh Sanderson, the Roughnecks head coach. “But it’ll be the same result if we’re playing like that.

“Our fans don’t deserve to watch that (crap). No bright spots.”

Lots of posts, though.

At least a dozen for the home side.

But far too many dropped and missed passes and bad footwork around the Riptide crease to sink chances and call off possible goals sunk the Roughnecks in front of 10,511 fans.

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“We can put a ton (of blame) on the offence,” Sanderson said. “It’s just not good enough.

“Our stick skills are absolutely horrendous right now. We’re turning over the ball way too much. It’s just got to stop.

“We’ll find ways to do that. We’ll just keep attacking and keep coaching and keep trying to get better.”

Nobody was better on the floor than Riptide superstar Jeff Teat — the league-leader in points with 53 after Friday’s nine-point performance for the visitors — who got going from the git-go.

Meanwhile, the Roughnecks took a while to pop up offensively.

But a three-goal outburst in a span of 69 seconds late in the first half took them out of their own shadow and into the spotlight.

Trailing by one, Shane Simpson took goaltender Christian Del Bianco’s long-toss up the floor and fired a perfect ball far side on Riptide backstop Cam Dunkerley.

Forty-four seconds later, the Riggers scored again in transition, when Zach Currier fed Jeff Cornwall on a two-on-one to tie the game 5-5.

Then just 25 seconds later, Tanner Cook rocketed a shot through Dunkerley from the right side to put the home side up 6-5 heading into halftime.

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Josh Currier was the only Roughnecks player finding the range in a listless opening quarter for the hosts. The veteran sniper had holed two goals to keep them close in a 3-2 Riptide advantage.

But just as the Riggers made balls fall for them late in the second quarter, the Riptide did the same deep in to the third.

They got three goals in a span of 3:05, including a pair on the power play, to go up 10-8.

King, on a penalty shot, and Tyler Pace with a well-placed shot on the man-advantage, tallied the only Roughnecks markers of the third frame.

Then came the final frame and only three goals total, including just one for the Riptide, as Del Bianco turned them away.

But what followed Haiden Dickson’s early power-play goal and another for King sandwiched around the Riptide’s final tally was more pipe and missed opportunities by the home team.

“Credit to Dunkerley, he was taking it away,” King said. “I felt he might have got lucky a few times more than we’re used to. But that stuff happens. You gotta not let it frustrate you.

“But when we have those possessions that die after one bad touch of the stick, it’s really deflating,” continued King. “Especially when our defence goes out and grinds and gets a good turnover for us or gets a good stop for us.

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“So I think our focus is to spread everybody out and get everyone some touches, get hard to the middle and continue to shoot the ball, because I think we probably let up on a few opportunities where we could’ve shot the ball.”

In the end, Del Bianco stopped 46 shots, while Dunkerley — who was solid all night long — turned away 38 balls.

“The positive is you don’t have to wait a whole week to try and come back and get revenge for the loss we just had,” added King of playing again just 24 hours after the loss. “We’ve had four or five bye-weeks in the last nine weeks, and it’s hard to get a rhythm. Real hard. And I’m not saying that as an excuse. But now that we’re getting games strung together — and we’re together more — I think it’s going to be really positive for us.”


T Justin Inacio, the Roughnecks face-off man, joined the club from the practice roster and got into action Friday night, while D Keiran McKay went to the practice roster … D Bennett Smith and D Robert Hudson were scratched by the Riggers on Friday night … F Logan Schuss (MCL/ACL) remains out indefinitely for the Roughnecks.

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