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Roughnecks & Rock Open Up Training Camp As 2015 Nll Season Looms

Calgary & Toronto both begin preparations for a run at the Champion’s Cup

Andrew McBride has taken part in his fair share of National Lacrosse League training camps.

To be exact, this year marks his lucky 13th camp with the Calgary Roughnecks.

“You can see the skill level from previous camps is up,” said the Calgary captain following the first of two on-field sessions of camp at the Foothills-Okotoks Regional Field House on Saturday. “Guys know they have to push themselves for positions and whenever you’re pushing for positions it brings the best out of the guys and that’s what you want in a training camp. You want guys working hard and being accountable.”

The last time the Riggers were all together was back on May 31 in Rochester when their 2014 NLL campaign ended in disappointment.

One week after beating the Rochester Knighthawks 10-7 at the Scotiabank Saddledome on May 24, the ’Necks needed just one more win to lay claim to their first Champion’s Cup since 2009. Instead, they suffered a 10-7 setback to the Knighthawks at the Blue Cross Arena before also being edged 3-2 in the 10-minute tiebreaker game.

“It didn’t end the way we wanted it to, but I think you’ve got to look at it as a building step,” McBride said. “Each year we’ve gotten better with this group. We almost got to the top of the mountain last year and this year we’ve got to build off that. This year guys came to camp in shape and you could see the hunger.”

Calgary coach Curt Malawsky couldn’t concur more with his captain.

“We wanted to keep this group together and give them one more shot at it,” said Malawsky, while noting that last year’s championship run only gave his players more experience. “Some people will say that the window of opportunity has passed you by and you didn’t seize it. I don’t look at it that way. We’re one step closer. We built that invaluable experience to be able to take the next step.”

Goalie Mike Poulin added that the Roughnecks have nothing to be ashamed about in losing to the three-time defending champion Knighthawks.

“It’s a tough league, every team is good,” Poulin said. “You can’t really hang your head when you know what happened last year happened. You just need to move on. It’s in the past. I’m sure everyone has thought about it enough and we’re ready to turn the page, get started and finish some business.”

Training camp started for the ’Necks on Friday with medicals followed by three on-field practices – two on Saturday and one Sunday morning. A total of 33 players, including 20 who suited up for the Roughnecks last season, took to the turf on the first weekend of camp.

“We didn’t really feel like we skipped a beat from last May to being out here today which is great,” said veteran Geoff Snider, while adding that Malawsky and assistant coaches Bruce Codd and Bob McMahon have some difficult decisions to make when it comes to trimming the roster to 20 players by Dec. 18. “Just from the drills today and how hard everyone is going and how fit everyone is, it’s a really competitive environment right out of the gates and I imagine it’s only going to get more challenging as we go through the middle of December and into January.”

Training camp will reconvene next Friday at the Toronto Rock Athletic Centre (TRAC) in Oakville, Ont. The Riggers will also scrimmage against the Toronto Rock on Saturday night (7 p.m. ET) and again on Sunday afternoon against the Minnesota Swarm (12 p.m. ET).

“We’ve got a lot of East Coast guys so we’ll get out there and get a couple of scrimmages in Toronto and that’s always good,” said forward Curtis Dickson. “It’s always nice to play against other competition rather than seeing the same guys every weekend so it will be fun getting out there.”

Calgary will then host the Edmonton Rush in a pre-season game at the Saddledome on Dec. 20 (7 p.m.) as part of the Roughnecks Showcase Weekend.

“That will be awesome, playing against a good Edmonton team,” Dickson said. “Hopefully we can get quite a few fans out there and it will be good to get a real good game situation out there before the season starts up.”

The Roughnecks will then open the 2015 NLL season at home at the ’Dome on Jan. 3 when they host the Vancouver Stealth.

“We’re all itching to get back at it and get ready to go,” said forward Shawn Evans, who led the Riggers with 105 points (26 goals and 79 assists) in 18 games last season.

Jeff Shattler, who’s entering his ninth season with the Riggers, added that he and his teammates have set a goal of taking another run at a championship.

“We all have one goal and we all have that bad taste in our mouth from last year — I know I do,” Shattler said. “I know for myself I just can’t wait to get the season started.”

Story courtesy of Laurence Heinen from CalgaryRoughnecks.com

Meanwhile, the Toronto Rock opened training camp on Saturday afternoon at the Toronto Rock Athletic Centre (TRAC) in Oakville, Ontario with veterans, free agents and rookies all hitting the floor. This was the first time together for the team since the passing of General Manager Terry Sanderson on Thursday. 

Following an emotional address to the team from Rock Owner and President Jamie Dawick and Head Coach John Lovell, the players were charged up and ready to shake the rust off and get their sticks going. 

“I liked our spirit, enthusiasm and determination,” Lovell said of the opening day of camp. “It was a little tentative at times. Some of the drills were new for some of the guys. The quality of the conditioning and the quality of the players is really high. We have some really good players here, the best I’ve seen at any camp I have been at.”

The players will have two days off to rest up for Tuesday’s second day of training camp which will shift it’s focus a little bit from Saturday’s session.

“We will work more on the style we want to play,” explained Lovell. “Begin to work on the kind of team we want to be defensively and offensively and just how we’re going to play. We’re still going to go up and down the floor and there’s still going to be some battles, in terms of 3 on 3 to see how guys respond under a bit of duress. Then we need to see who can play in a real exhibition game.”

That exhibition game is just a week away. On Saturday, December 6th at 7pm at the TRAC, the Rock will host the Calgary Roughnecks.

Josh Sanderson and Shawn Williams did not participate during the first day of camp due to personal reasons. Garrett Billings, Bill Greer and Patrick Merrill all had maintenance days and watched the first training camp session from the stands.

Story courtesy of TorontoRock.com

Find each team’s preseason schedule below (all times local). Stay tuned for more training camp and exhibition game coverage culminating with NLL Face Off Weekend 2015 presented by New Era on the weekend of January 2-3 to open the league’s 29th season.

Buffalo Bandits
Saturday, Nov. 22 – 2pm & 7pm – First Niagara Center (Buffalo, NY)
Sunday, Nov. 23 – 10am – First Niagara Center (Buffalo, NY)
Saturday, Nov. 29 – 1pm – Lakemount Sportsworld (Grimsby, ON)
Saturday, Dec. 6 – 10am Open Practice & 7pm (scrimmage vs. New England) – First Niagara Center (Buffalo, NY)
Sunday, Dec. 7 – 10am – First Niagara Center (Buffalo, NY)
Saturday, Dec. 13 – 4pm – (scrimmage vs. New England) – Toronto Rock Athletic Centre (Oakville, ON)
Sunday, Dec. 14 – 11am – (scrimmage vs. Colorado) – First Niagara Center (Buffalo, NY)
Saturday, Dec. 20 – 10am – Iroquois Lacrosse Arena (Hagersville, ON)
Tuesday, Dec. 23 – 7pm – Iroquois Lacrosse Arena (Hagersville, ON)

Calgary Roughnecks
Friday, Nov. 28 – TBD – Foothills-Okotoks Regional Field House (Okotoks, AB)
Saturday, Nov. 29 – 9-11am & 4-6pm – Foothills-Okotoks Regional Field House (Okotoks, AB)
Sunday, Nov. 30 – 9-11 am – Foothills-Okotoks Regional Field House (Okotoks, AB)
Friday, Dec. 5 – 8:30-10:30pm – Toronto Rock Athletic Centre (Oakville, ON)
Saturday, Dec. 6 – 9-11am & 7pm (scrimmage vs. Toronto) – Toronto Rock Athletic Centre (Oakville, ON)
Sunday, Dec. 7 – 12-3pm – (scrimmage vs. Minnesota) – Toronto Rock Athletic Centre (Oakville, ON)
Friday, Dec. 19 – 6-8pm – Genesis Place (Airdrie, AB)
Saturday, Dec. 20 – 7pm (exhibition vs. Edmonton) –Scotiabank Saddledome (Calgary, AB) (tickets)
Saturday, Dec. 27 – 4-6pm – Genesis Place (Airdrie, AB)
Sunday, Dec. 28 – 9-11am – Genesis Place (Airdrie, AB)

Colorado Mammoth
Saturday, Nov. 15 – 6-8am – Bladium Sports & Fitness Club (Denver, CO)
Sunday, Nov. 16 – 9-11am – Parker Fieldhouse (Parker, CO)
Friday, Dec. 5 – 8:15-11:15pm – Langley Events Centre (Langley, BC)
Saturday, Dec. 6 – 1:30-3:30pm & 7:30-9:30pm – Langley Events Centre (Langley, BC)
Friday, Dec. 12 – 9-11pm – Toronto Rock Athletic Centre (Oakville, ON)
Saturday, Dec. 13 – 1-3pm & 7-10pm (scrimmage vs. Minnesota) – Toronto Rock Athletic Centre (Oakville, ON)
Sunday, Dec. 14 – 10am-1pm – (scrimmage vs. Buffalo) – First Niagara Center (Buffalo, NY)
Saturday, Dec. 20 – 6-8am – Bladium Sports & Fitness Club (Denver, CO)

Edmonton Rush
Friday, Nov. 21 – 8:30-10:30pm – Leduc Recreation Centre (Leduc, AB)
Saturday, Nov. 22 – 10-11:30am & 1-2:30 pm – Leduc Recreation Centre (Leduc, AB)
Friday, Dec. 5 – TBD – Langley Events Centre (Langley, BC) 
Saturday, Dec. 6 – 5pm (scrimmage vs. Vancouver) – Langley Events Centre (Langley, BC)
Friday, Dec. 19 – 10-11:30am & 1-2:30 pm – Rexall Place (Edmonton, AB)
Saturday, Dec. 20 – 7pm – (exhibition vs. Calgary) – Scotiabank Saddledome (Calgary, AB) (tickets)

Minnesota Swarm
Friday, Dec. 5 – 6:30-8:30pm – Toronto Rock Athletic Centre (Oakville, ON)
Saturday, Dec. 6 – 1-2pm – Toronto Rock Athletic Centre (Oakville, ON)
Saturday, Dec. 6 – 8pm – (exhibition vs. Rochester) – Blue Cross Arena (Rochester, NY) (tickets)
Sunday, Dec. 7 –  12-3pm – (scrimmage vs. Calgary) – Toronto Rock Athletic Centre (Oakville, ON)
Friday, Dec. 12 – 7-9pm – Toronto Rock Athletic Centre (Oakville, ON)
Saturday, Dec. 13 – 6-9pm – (scrimmage vs. Colorado) – Toronto Rock Athletic Centre (Oakville, ON)
Sunday, Dec. 14 – 8-9am – Toronto Rock Athletic Centre (Oakville, ON)
Friday, Dec. 19 – 7-9pm – Toronto Rock Athletic Centre (Oakville, ON)
Saturday, Dec. 20 – 9-11am & 3-5pm – Toronto Rock Athletic Centre (Oakville, ON)
Sunday, Dec. 21 – 1-3pm – Toronto Rock Athletic Centre (Oakville, ON)

New England Black Wolves
Saturday, Nov. 15 – 5-7pm – Renegade Sports Center (Waterford, CT)
Sunday, Nov. 16 – 8-10am – Renegade Sports Center (Waterford, CT)
Saturday, Nov. 22 – 8-10am & 5-7pm – Renegade Sports Center (Waterford, CT)
Sunday, Nov. 23 – 8-10am – Renegade Sports Center (Waterford, CT)
Saturday, Dec. 6 – 7pm – (scrimmage vs. Buffalo) – First Niagara Center (Buffalo, NY)
Sunday, Dec. 7 – 9-10am – First Niagara Center (Buffalo, NY)
Saturday, Dec. 13 – 8-9am & 4pm (scrimmage vs. Buffalo) – Toronto Rock Athletic Centre (Oakville, ON) 
Saturday, Dec. 20 – 10-11am & 6-9pm – (scrimmage vs. Toronto) – Toronto Rock Athletic Centre (Oakville, ON)
Sunday, Dec. 21 – 9-11am – Toronto Rock Athletic Centre (Oakville, ON)

Rochester Knighthawks
Saturday, Nov. 22 – 1-3pm – Total Sports Experience (TSE) & 5-8pm – TSE East (Rochester, NY)
Sunday, Nov. 23 – 11-1pm – TSE East (Rochester, NY)
Wednesday, Dec. 3 – 7-10pm – Iroquois Lacrosse Arena (Hagersville, ON)
Saturday, Dec. 6 – 8pm – (exhibition vs. Minnesota) – Blue Cross Arena (Rochester, NY) (tickets)
Wednesday, Dec. 10 – 7pm-10pm – Iroquois Lacrosse Arena, Six Nations
Sunday, Dec. 14 – 2pm – (exhibition vs. Toronto) – Bell Centre (Montreal, QC) (tickets)
Wednesday, Dec. 17 – 7-10pm – Iroquois Lacrosse Arena (Hagersville, ON)
Monday, Dec. 22 – 7-10pm – Iroquois Lacrosse Arena (Hagersville, ON)
Sunday, Dec. 28 – 10am-1pm – Iroquois Lacrosse Arena (Hagersville, ON)

Toronto Rock
Saturday, Nov. 29 – 2-4pm – Toronto Rock Athletic Centre (Oakville, ON)
Tuesday, Dec. 2 – 8-10pm – Toronto Rock Athletic Centre (Oakville, ON)
Saturday, Dec. 6 – 11am-1pm & 7pm – (scrimmage vs. Calgary) – Toronto Rock Athletic Centre (Oakville, ON)
Tuesday, Dec. 9 – 8-10pm – Toronto Rock Athletic Centre (Oakville, ON)
Saturday, Dec. 13 – 9-11am – Toronto Rock Athletic Centre (Oakville, ON)
Sunday, Dec. 14 – 2pm – (exhibition vs. Rochester) – Bell Centre (Montreal, QC) (tickets)
Tuesday, Dec. 16 – 8-10pm – Toronto Rock Athletic Centre (Oakville, ON)
Saturday, Dec. 20 – 11am-1pm & 7pm (scrimmage vs. New England) – TRAC (Oakville, ON)
Sunday, Dec. 21 – 11am-1pm – Toronto Rock Athletic Centre (Oakville, ON)

Vancouver Stealth
Saturday, Nov. 22 – 9-11am & 5pm-7pm – Langley Events Centre (Langley, BC) 
Sunday, Nov. 23 – 9-11am – Langley Events Centre (Langley, BC) 
Saturday, Dec. 6 – 9-11am & 5-7pm (scrimmage vs. Edmonton) – Langley Events Centre (Langley, BC)
Sunday, Dec. 7 – 9-11am (scrimmage vs. Colorado) – Langley Events Centre (Langley, BC)
Saturday, Dec. 13 – 9am-11am & 5-7pm – Langley Events Centre (Langley, BC) 
Sunday, Dec. 14 – 9-11am – Langley Events Centre (Langley, BC) 
Saturday, Dec. 20 – 9-11am & 5-7pm – Langley Events Centre (Langley, BC) 
Sunday, Dec. 21 – 9-11am – Langley Events Centre (Langley, BC) 
Saturday, Dec. 27 – 11am-1pm – Langley Events Centre (Langley, BC)