Perhaps it's only fitting the defending National Lacrosse League champions became the first team in the league to clinch a playoff berth. Following the Anaheim Storm's loss to the Colorado Mammoth last night, the Riggers later punched their post-season ticket with a 11-10 road victory over the San Jose Stealth at HP Pavilion.
It was the Riggers' second win in as many nights against the Stealth. Calgary beat San Jose 15-11 at the 'Dome Friday.
Roughnecks head coach Chris Hall said his team is happy to make a statement to the rest of the league by securing the first playoff berth.
"I think that validates where we were last year," said Hall. "Even winning the championship, I think some people questioned how good a team we were. Clinching a playoff spot by the 11-game mark -- and being the first -- is pretty darn good, I think. We're a good lacrosse team and I think we deserve it."
The Roughnecks improved to 8-3 -- first in the West Division. The Stealth fell to 3-9.
Lewis Ratcliff led Calgary with three goals while Kaleb Toth and Kyle Goundrey had a pair each. Tracey Kelusky, Jason Wulder, Jesse Phillips and Brad MacDonald had singles.
Former Rigger Ted Dowling paced San Jose with a hat-trick.
The Roughnecks picked up where they left off Friday night, scoring four unanswered markers to take a 4-0 lead after the first quarter and looked to have the game well in hand.
However, San Jose answered by scoring seven straight and kept the high-powered Roughnecks attack off the scoresheet for an amazing span of 26:25.
The Riggers finally came to life with three straight goals in the third quarter and finished the game with the final four tallies to secure the victory.
"We looked like we were going to walk away with it," said Hall. "And we started playing like we were going to walk away with it. You just can't do that. But we found a way to win, so that's the good news. At the end of the day, we got the win."
Roughnecks assistant coach Jeff Dowling said the team never thought they were out of it -- the sign of true champions.
"Nobody got down or quit," said Dowling. "We were confident we could pull it out. Tracey and Kaleb kept saying on the bench, 'Good teams find a way to win,' and we did."
Next up, the Roughnecks travel to Arizona to take on the Sting Friday (7:30 p.m., Ch. 30)
- - -
CALGARY ROUGHNECKS: 11
SAN JOSE STEALTH: 10