Desert storm

TY PILSON -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 2:47 PM ET

The Cinderella Arizona Sting are off to the ball. The visitors from the desert upended the defending National Lacrosse League champion Calgary Roughnecks, beating them 19-15 last night at the 'Dome thanks to a six-goal run in the fourth quarter.

The premature end to the season was tough to swallow for the Riggers, including forward Lewis Ratcliff.

"I still can't believe the season is over," he said, sitting sullenly at his locker in a quiet dressing room.

"I'm not ready to stop playing. The season wasn't supposed to end this way."

With the victory, upstart Arizona -- in only its second post-season game -- advanced to face the Toronto Rock in the Champion's Cup final May 14 at the Air Canada Centre.

Calgary blew two three-goal leads early in the game, a four-goal cushion in the third quarter and a three-goal edge in the fourth quarter, as they imploded late in the contest. The Sting outscored the Riggers 9-3 in the final 15 minutes.

Roughnecks assistant captain Kaleb Toth said his team dropped the ball and paid the price.

"We basically gave them the game," said Toth, who scored a pair in the defeat.

"We had a chance to bury them and we let them back in the game. We beat ourselves. Credit to them but we played terrible. We came out and had a brutal second half."

Tracey Kelusky led Calgary with four goals, while Ratcliff had a hat-trick and Jason Wulder a pair. Ted Dowling, Jeff Moleski, Rich Catton and Brad MacDonald rounded out the scoring for Calgary.

Dan Dawson and Craig Conn paced Arizona with four each.

Curtis Palidwor -- last year's Champion's Cup game MVP -- made only 25 saves in the loss for the Riggers.

Calgary outshot Arizona 55-43.

Wulder, the team's elder statesman with 11 seasons under his belt, said his team panicked, making bad shots and turning the ball over during Arizona's late run.

"I can't explain it," said Wulder, shaking his head. "They have some big-game players who stepped up and made us pay when we made mistakes and we made a lot of them tonight."

The No. 2-seeded Sting beat the Colorado Mammoth to advance to the West Division final.

Calgary had a first-round bye after going 10-6 and securing its first West Division regular-season title.

The Roughnecks had won the season series between the two clubs 2-1 and the Sting had never won in Calgary.

Roughnecks transition forward Jesse Phillips said Arizona was hungrier than Calgary and reminded him a lot of last season's Riggers.

"They outworked us all night," said Phillips.

"They deserve that game -- 100 percent. They beat us, plain and simple."

Dowling opened the game's scoring on a beautiful quick-stick marker he put five-hole past Arizona goalie Mike Miron off a great pass from Ratcliff only 39 seconds into the game. Calgary led 4-3 after 15 minutes and 9-7 at the half.

Ratcliff scored a pair a minute apart in the third quarter to put Calgary up by four but as they had done all night, Arizona replied scoring three straight to stay in the game as Calgary led only 12-10 after the third quarter.

ARIZONA STING: 19

CALGARY ROUGHNECKS: 15

STING ADVANCES TO CHAMPION'S CUP FINAL MAY 14 VS. ROCK IN TORONTO


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