Fate in Riggers\' hands

TY PILSON -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:53 AM ET

It\'s pretty cut and dry.

If the 8-6 Calgary Roughnecks beat the 7-7 Colorado Mammoth tonight (7:30 p.m., \'Dome) and the Columbus Landsharks lose to the Vancouver Ravens, the Riggers make the National Lacrosse League\'s post-season soiree.

In doing so, they\'d become the first professional sports team in Calgary to make the playoffs since the Stamps won the Grey Cup in 2001.

If they lose, the playoff picture gets a whole lot murkier and they\'ll be forced into a make-or-break game in their final tilt of the year against the NLL\'s top team, the 11-3 Buffalo Bandits, at the \'Dome April 11.

Clearly, the Roughnecks would like to have a berth nailed down before then.

\"This is a huge game, no doubt,\" said Roughnecks forward Kaleb Toth. \"We have to go out and win. We know what we have to do.\"

However, the Mammoth know what they have to do as well: Win or be eliminated from the playoff picture.

\"There\'s no question it\'s like a playoff game for both teams,\" said Colorado captain Gary Gait. \"That\'s how we\'re looking at it. It\'s a must-win game for both teams.\"

Gait leads the NLL in goals with 54, only three shy of the single-season record he set in 1998. When the two teams met earlier in the season, Calgary handed Colorado its first home loss in a 14-13 OT nailbiter on Feb. 14.

Gait scored four goals and had two assists in that game and Calgary knows if they want to beat Colorado, containing Gait is a top priority.

\"Nobody\'s ever found a way to shut down Gary Gait,\" said Roughnecks head coach Chris Hall. \"You try to limit the damage and do the best you can and hopefully, you shut down some of the other players and try to keep him to a minimum in the process.\"

Roughneck Rob Kirkby did an excellent job of covering Gait when the two teams met before, said Hall, and will be given the task of trying to cover the game\'s most prolific scorer again tonight.

Calgary is 5-1 at home this season while the Mammoth are 1-5 on the road, giving the Roughnecks an advantage -- at least on paper -- going into the tilt.

\"I think guys are going to be prepared to play,\" said Gait. \"And for us, we\'re much better when we jump out early. We tend to play a lot better and finish the games better when we\'re ahead. When we\'re behind, we don\'t play that well from behind so we\'ll want to try and get out front right away.\"

The game will also mark the return to the \'Dome of former Roughneck Ben Prepchuk. The Sherwood Park native, who scored three goals in the 14-13 loss, is just one part of a potent Colorado attack.

\"Obviously, they have a very good offence,\" said Hall. \"We know that and we\'re going to have to respect that.\"

To make matters more interesting, six members of the Mammoth along with six members of the Albany Attack were suspended Thursday for their part in a brawl during a game on March 28. Offensive stars Ted Dowling and rookie standout Brian Langtry along with Bryan Ciole, Bryan Reese, Tom Still and Rory Graham have all been handed one-game suspensions. The league has scheduled a hearing with an arbitrator for next Friday if Colorado chooses to appeal any or all of the suspensions. Any players who appeal will be eligible to play tonight.


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