All-star intensity

TY PILSON -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:12 AM ET

The National Lacrosse League's all-star game bears little resemblance to most other pro sporting showcase tilts.

The NHL and NBA all-star games are all about offence, with little or no defence played, while the NFL's Pro Bowl can often be lacklustre between the lines.

That dummied-down product just doesn't translate with lacrosse, said Calgary Roughnecks forward Lewis Ratcliff.

"I don't think you can have a lacrosse game that's not intense," said Ratcliff. "I think everyone is going to be out there trying to win -- no one is going to take a night off."

Ratcliff, along with Calgary teammates Kaleb Toth, Jesse Phillips and Craig Gelsvik, were named reserves yesterday for the West Division team that will take part in this year's NLL all-star game at the Saddledome Feb. 26 (noon, NBC, The Score).

The foursome joins captain Tracey Kelusky -- who was voted a starter last week -- and head coach Chris Hall, who will serve as the West bench boss.

Hall and West assistant coach Johnny Mouradian of the San Jose Stealth were responsible for selecting the reserves.

The five Roughnecks taking part in this year's game is up one from last year, when the Riggers were represented by Kelusky, Toth, and former Roughnecks Ted Dowling and Rob Kirkby, and is a franchise high.

Ratcliff and Toth were no-brainer selections as two of the league's top snipers. Ratcliff, a first-time all-star who led the Roughnecks in scoring last season, has 16 goals and 16 assists in seven games and is tied for 10th in league scoring. Toth, who won the hardest-shot contest at last year's game in Denver with a 99-m.p.h. blast, has 15 goals and 11 assists and is tied for 18th in league scoring.

Ratcliff said being selected was an honour.

"It feels good to be named an all-star," said the 23-year-old Ratcliff, a southpaw playing in his third NLL season. "I wasn't expecting anything but I'm glad I was named."

Both Phillips and Gelsvik will also be taking part in their first all-star games.

Gelsvik is a big 6-ft. 3-in. stay-at-home defenceman who can punish opposing forwards, said Hall.

"Craig goes largely unnoticed, except by those he's marking," said Hall. "He's a quiet giant in defence who always comes to play."

As for Phillips, he's had a career year so far, playing stellar defence and chipping in 15 points.

He said the all-star nod came as a surprise.

"I'm pretty excited about it," said the 29-year-old Phillips, in his fourth NLL season. "I didn't expect it. I just found out about a half an hour ago. It's nice to just be mentioned along with some of the players that are going to be there."

Before they hit the carpet for the all-star game, the Roughnecks have some business to take care of this weekend when they take on the Anaheim Storm at the 'Dome (7 p.m.).

QUICK STICKS: The Roughnecks released defender Scott Forbes yesterday. Forbes played 21 games for the Roughnecks but didn't draw into the lineup this season.


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