DENVER -- At first it was novel, just one of those quirky statistical anomalies that happen in sport. However, when the underdog Calgary Roughnecks walked into the Pepsi Centre in Denver April 24 and beat the Colorado Mammoth in the National Lacrosse League West Division final, it became down right infuriating.
Since moving from Washington, D.C., two years ago, the Mammoth have lost at home only four times. Curiously, three of those defeats have come at the hands of the Roughnecks.
Calgary went on to beat the Buffalo Bandits in the Champion's Cup final at the Saddledome two weeks later while the Mammoth, the league's best team during the regular season after going 13-3, were left scratching their heads and licking their wounds.
The two Rocky Mountain rivals renew acquaintances when they open up the 2005 season tonight (7 p.m., Ch. 30) in Denver with the Riggers hoping history keeps repeating itself.
"It gives us a lot of confidence going in," said Roughnecks forward Kaleb Toth. "But it is their home building, they have the crowd cheering for them so they do have the advantage.
"But we know we can win there and we enjoy going in there and coming away with a win."
Both teams downplay the streak -- coincidentally, the Mammoth have never lost at the Saddledome -- but when two of the best teams in the league take to the carpet, any statistical advantage can be viewed as an edge.
Still, many of the Riggers don't want to think about past success.
"We haven't lost there -- are you sure?" said Calgary captain Tracey Kelusky, playing coy. "Is that true? I didn't know that.
"You can't put too much in that," he continued. "Whatever. We know we can go in there and win so from that aspect, it means something, I guess."
When asked about the losing skid on a media conference call earlier this week, Mammoth head coach Jamie Batley joked it must be because of Calgary's superior coaching, to which Roughnecks bench boss Chris Hall agreed with a laugh.
"I don't know why to be honest," said Batley, who guided the Peterborough Lakers to a national Sr. A Mann Cup championship this summer. "You're probably the third guy to ask me that in the last day.
"I don't really think there's one reason. I joked about it on the phone but really, I don't know.
"Hey, all I can say is we got new turf (in the off-season). Maybe that will end it."
Every game between the two clubs over the last two seasons has been close and many games have been one-goal wins, a few coming in sudden-death overtime.
Still, say what you will, the Roughnecks know they can win in one of the league's most hostile buildings, which averaged a league-high 18,000-plus per game last year.