After playing the first two games in franchise history, the Riptide have a bye week before next weekend when they have two games. The break gives the coaching staff an opportunity to dissect what happened during the 12-4 loss in Halifax on December 7th and the 14-10 loss to Vancouver on December 14th.
It’s been a week of breaking down a lot of tape and setting up calls between the players and position coaches to examine what went wrong but also what went right.
“The first weekend was a tough weekend,” said Riptide General Manager and Head Coach Regy Thorpe. “I thought the guys had a good week of focus to head out to Vancouver and battle another veteran team. We got off to a better start. We were on the plus side in face-offs. We had some shots fall for us on offense. It was definitely a couple of steps forward but we there are obviously a lot of areas that we need to clean up.”
Among those areas are getting better shots, transition defense and limiting the runs of the other teams. The improvement was immense from game one to game two, but there’s still a lot of work to do as the staff and players get ready for a pair of games next weekend, Friday night December 27th on the road against the New England Black Wolves and then the first home game in franchise history on Saturday night December 28th at Nassau Coliseum against the Saskatchewan Rush.
“Our guys are playing with a lot of poise,” said Thorpe. “With that being said, it’s an off-week for us but we have two games coming up so we’re preparing like it’s a game week. It’s going to be a great challenge for us to go to New England and play the top-rated team in the league.”
Through two games, Connor Kelly (three goals and four assists) and Dan Lomas (three goals and four assists) are tied for the team lead in scoring with seven points. Tyler Digby has two goals and four assists for six points while rookie Travis Longboat has two goals and three assists for five points.
With a mix of youth and veteran players, the Riptide knew there would be some growing pains and now the challenge is to examine the first two games, turn the page, and get ready for what lies ahead next weekend and that could include a few changes.
“The organization has taken a long-term approach to building this team,” said Thorpe. “Our staff did a great job clipping off some film and doing some good teaching points for these guys. We’re going to keep tweaking the lineup a little bit. We’re by no means panicking but we’re going to get a couple of changes in there and just kind of keep improving the roster.”
While the Riptide dropped their first two games, the start to the season hasn’t been without positives. There has been some really good veteran leadership and the young players have shown that they are going to be important pieces of this team as it grows into a winner.
“It’s not easy for a guy like (Captain) Dan MacRae to come in here who’s played for a veteran team like Calgary but I think he’s really embraced that role,” said Thorpe. “It starts with our leadership and then two is just our young group of guys that played their first NLL game. They’re playing with a lot of poise and that’s not easy to do when you’re inexperienced.”
Preparing for two games in the same week is not an easy thing to do. Next weekend will be the first of three occasions this season when the Riptide will play games on back to back nights. In the NLL, there’s not a lot of time for practice during the course of the week with players living out of town with other jobs, but the coaches will continue to set up meetings over the phone to get the players ready for both opponents.
“It’s going to be a busy week with calls and clipping up film for both of these teams and getting the scouts and the preparation ready to roll,” said Thorpe. “It’s challenging but everyone has to do it in the league and again it’s an opportunity for us to get a couple of guys in and out of the lineup for having back to back games and give guys opportunities and get our compete level up.”
So, with a weekend off, the countdown continues towards next weekend with two big games including the first home game in franchise history next Saturday. Until that time, Happy Holidays Riptide Nation and here’s hoping you “Get Pulled In” with lots of great gifts this week, maybe even Riptide tickets and gear!