Playoff-hopeful Roughnecks looking for answers after third-straight NLL loss

Del Bianco’s solid effort wasted, as Riggers stuffed by rival Seals at Dome

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It was a valiant second-half comeback attempt for the Calgary Roughnecks. 

But just like the previous two games during this three-game slide, the Riggers came up short in a 7-6 Friday night loss to the San Diego Seals (10-4) at Scotiabank Saddledome. 

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During the skid, the team has lost all three games by two goals or less, losing to the Philadelphia Wings 11-9 in Week 14 and 13-12 to the Georgia Swarm in Week 15.

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“I think if we can pick our effort up about 10%, then these one-goal games might be a little bit different,” said Roughnecks captain Jesse King after the latest loss on WestJet Field. “There’s always going to be frustration level when we’re not winning games, especially when they’re losing by one goal.” 

King applauded the team’s second-half efforts but believes the team has to do a better job of putting the ball in the back of the net.  

That was the case on Friday as the team scored a season-low six goals in a goaltending battle with the Seals. 

On the visitor’s side, Christopher Origlieri was fantastic for the Seals, earning the victory after stopping 35 balls.

But the story of the night was the performance of Christian Del Bianco, who kept the Roughnecks in the game after saving 54 of the 61 shots he faced. With the 2023 MVP on the team, King believes the Riggers have a chance in every game down the stretch.

“He’s our backbone,” said King. “We got to lean on him right now, because he’s the guy who’s always consistent.” 

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These competitive losses have come at the worst time for the Riggers. With five games remaining in the National Lacrosse League season, the team sits in 11th place with a 5-8 record. Now in a five-team race with the Saskatchewan Rush (4-6), the Rochester Knighthawks (5-6), the New York Riptide (6-7) and the Panther City Lacrosse Club (6-9) for the final two playoff spots, the team will need to be in top form if it wants to secure a spot in the NLL post-season.  

Despite the struggles, head coach Josh Sanderson believes in his team.

“We’ve been in this hole a few times here, so we know we can crawl out of it,” said the former Roughnecks star. “We’re definitely not done. I got confidence in our guys.”

The Roughnecks got some help on Friday, as the Halifax Thunderbirds (8-6) defeated Panther City to keep the Riggers in striking distance of a playoff position. 

If the Roughnecks want to make a playoff push, they will need to put together a full 60-minute effort. The last two games have seen the team fall behind early, making it difficult to make a comeback in the second half. 

Sanderson shouldered the responsibility for his team’s lack of effort in the first half. 

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“I thought our first period wasn’t good enough, and it wasn’t good enough in Georgia, and that’s on me,” said coach Sanderson. “Just got to do a better job making sure we’re ready to play for the 60 minutes.

On the bright side for the Roughnecks, three of their final five games are at the Dome, allowing the team to feed off of the home crowd. 

After a season-high 14,143 fans were in attendance on Friday during the team’s annual St. Patrick’s Day game, King knows the importance of having home-court advantage down the stretch.

“It’s always exciting, especially when you’re playing in Calgary,” complimented King. “That’s why we go on those runs a lot of the time at home because that energy really builds us up.”

The Roughnecks star added the team is taking it one game at a time. His head coach reiterated that statement, stating the team will put all its effort into the upcoming battle against the Albany FireWolves next Friday (7 p.m., TSN+).


After collecting 14 loose balls on Friday, Zach Currier surpassed 11,000 for his career … Former Roughneck superstar Curtis Dickson achieved a milestone of his own, collecting his 1,000th career point after a three-assist performance … Roughnecks transition Josh Inacio (lower body) and defender Seth Van Schepen (upper body) both missed Friday’s affair.

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