Rough ride planned

TY PILSON -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 10:54 AM ET

Like the mythical Greek monster Cerberus that guarded the gate to Hades, the Calgary Roughnecks are a deadly three-headed beast.

Sporting the league's second-best powerplay, a potent offence and a defensive-transitition game that's been filling the net, the Riggers are a scoring nightmare for opposing defences.

The No. 2 seeded Arizona Sting are in the hot seat tonight when they face the defending National Lacrosse League champion Roughnecks in the West Division final at the 'Dome (8 p.m., Ch. 30).

The winner will advance to the Champion's Cup final to face the Toronto Rock at the Air Canada Centre. The top team during the regular season beat the Rochester Knighthawks 12-10 last night at the ACC in the East Division final.

Calgary head coach Chris Hall acknowledges it's a rarity for any team to possess the end-to-end scoring punch his club has right now.

"You're always trying to peak at the right time," said Hall. "And now is the right time. That's the ultimate goal -- to peak in the playoffs."

The Roughnecks -- hampered by injuries and inconsistent play -- struggled throughout the season but still posted a 10-6 record to win the West Division regular-season title for the first time.

The Riggers ended the regular season with a 20-12 win over the Rock in which the team played its best game of the season. Calgary won the season series 2-1 against the Sting, beating them 17-10 in the last meeting April 3.

Riggers star Kaleb Toth, who led Calgary with nine goals against the Sting this season -- said his club is finally firing on all cylinders.

"It's nice that everything is clicking," said Toth. "It seemed like earlier in the year when our transition was scoring goals, our offence wasn't.

"We had some kinks to work out and over the last few games, everything has fallen into place and we're clicking really well on offence, on our transition and, of course, the powerplay."

A good part of Calgary's success can be attributed to its transition game, led by Jesse Phillips and augmented by players like Andrew McBride, Andrew Biers and Brad MacDonald.

Hall realizes how fortunate he is when it comes to secondary goal scoring.

"It's nice to have good transition players with very good offensive skills," said Hall. "We're very lucky in that."

Sting head coach Bob Hamley said trying to contain Calgary's defensive breakout is a major priority for his club.

"You have to play and recognize that. They have a lot of weapons outside of the traditional ones," said Hamley. "Guys like Phillips, Biers and McBride had great seasons. We know what they're capable of. We just have to play them smart and make better shots, have a better shot selection, so they can't pick up the rebounds or let (goalie) Curtis (Palidwor) make an easy stop and bomb it down the floor."

Roughnecks assistant coach Jeff Dowling, the team's defensive guru, said the team's strategy is thinking and reacting quickly.

"Our first goal is to get the ball and try to get one of their offensive guys stuck on defence," said Dowling. "First, they're offensive players aren't used to playing defence. That's an advantage for us. Second, they'll be so tired they won't be able to come out for the next shift on offence. That's why we move the ball so quick. That's the goal. Trap them.

"That's why we don't send just one guy on the break like some teams, we send two or three. It forces them to stay out."


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