Everything to prove

TY PILSON -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 12:56 PM ET

As much as the Calgary Roughnecks need a win tonight, they also need to make a statement. The 1-2 Riggers host the Arizona Sting (7:30 p.m., 'Dome), needing a win to keep pace in the National Lacrosse League's West Division.

Calgary looked nothing like the defending NLL champions by starting the season 0-2.

The Riggers looked more like defending champs in a 14-10 victory over the San Jose Stealth in their last outing Jan. 8 but will need to keep building on that to reaffirm their status as one of the top teams in the league.

"More importantly, we have to make a statement to ourselves," said Calgary captain Tracey Kelusky, who leads the team in scoring with 14 points in three games.

"That was the great thing about the San Jose win. After the game, people were saying 'that's the Calgary Roughnecks I remember. They fought through adversity and stuck with it, believed in themselves and did what they had to to win the game.' "

After an off-season that saw more than 30% of Calgary's roster change, the Riggers knew it would take some time to regain their championship form.

However, they didn't expect to start the season quite as rusty and disorganized as they looked in their first two defeats.

The victory in San Jose has done wonders to elevate the mood in the dressing room and reinvigorate the club.

"I don't think its 100 percent to where we were last year," said Kelusky. "But we're more confident and confidence goes a long ways in this league and a long ways in our locker-room.

"You look at last year, we succeeded because we believed in ourselves and we were confident. I don't think we ever pushed that panic button. This season, you bring in new faces and you don't necessarily doubt the talent you bring in but maybe you doubt whether you're going to be as good a team, collectively, as you were last year.

"But I think once we beat San Jose, we realized how good a team we are and we bought into that and that's half the battle."

A win tonight would be an extra boost.

"I think it would go a long way towards building the confidence and helping us form a cohesive unit," said Riggers defender Devan Wray. "A couple of wins would go a long ways towards both of those causes."

Standing in their way is a much improved Sting club which has already posted wins over Colorado and Rochester.

In the latter, Arizona held one of the league's most prolific offences to only eight goals in a 9-8 overtime victory.

After scoring just 17 goals in their first two games, Calgary's attack looks like its back on track after racking up 14 goals against a tough Stealth defence.

"We're certainly concerned with Calgary's offence," admitted Arizona coach Bob Hamley. "But we're not too worried about our defence. (Our defence has) played very well so far this year, they've proved that."

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QUICK STICKS: Calgary pulled off a huge trade in the off-season with Arizona, sending all-star defender Rob Kirkby to the Sting for Kyle Neufeld and Travis Gillespie. Kirkby has yet to play this year, while Neufeld has been sidelined recovering from knee surgery. Gillespie has dressed for only one game.


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