Champions finding form

TY PILSON -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:09 AM ET

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The real Calgary Roughnecks -- the defending National Lacrosse League champions -- showed up to play yesterday and, in the process, secured a home playoff date.

After losing two straight games and being outscored 34-26 in the defeats, the Riggers found their 'A' game as they outplayed, outhussled and outscored the Arizona Sting 17-10 at the 'Dome.

With the victory, the Roughnecks have won the season series against every West Division opponent, giving them the upper hand in all tie-breaking playoff scenarios.

The Riggers can now finish no worse than in a tie for second and the tiebreaker would give them home floor.

They can clinch the West Division title -- and a bye in the first round of the playoffs -- with a victory in either of their last two games, both at home -- against Buffalo Saturday or Toronto April 17.

Calgary head coach Chris Hall said yesterday's victory was his team's most complete game of the season.

"I can't remember one we played much better," said Hall.

"That had to be our most complete performance both ends. It was a comfortable win and comfortable wins are few and far inbetween in this league."

Ted Dowling paced Calgary with four goals after being kept off the scoresheet in a 16-10 loss to the Toronto Rock Friday night.

Tracey Kelusky had a hat-trick, while Lewis Ratcliff, Kaleb Toth and Andrew Biers had a pair each. Jason Wulder, Jeff Moleski, Kyle Goundrey and Brad MacDonald rounded out the scoring for Calgary. Curtis Palidwor stopped 40 shots for the Riggers.

All-star forward Dan Dawson led Arizona with four goals, including a late penalty-shot marker.

Calgary's defence was solid in the victory -- containing a potent Arizona attack -- while five Calgary goals came off the transition, which had the visitors on their heels for much of the contest.

Kelusky said the Roughnecks played "the best fundamental game we've played all year. Our backs weren't exactly against the wall but we knew how big a game it was and we couldn't be complacent.

"Once we got that playoff spot, we seemed to get complacent. Today, we flipped that switch and played a full game with good fundamentals."

Dawson said the Sting shot itself in the foot.

"We were our own worst enemy," said Dawson. "We made them look good -- and they are a good bunch of guys -- but we dropped a lot of passes and hit Palidwor right in the belly pad a lot."

Arizona coach Bob Hamley said the Roughnecks reminded everyone yesterday why they won the 2004 title.

"They're champions for a reason," he said.


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