Rigger and better

Kaleb Toth, left, and Tracey Kelusky are ready to lead the Roughnecks into another season. The club...

Kaleb Toth, left, and Tracey Kelusky are ready to lead the Roughnecks into another season. The club has bulked up as they try for a second title in three years. (Calgary Sun/Darren Makowichuk)

TY PILSON -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:13 AM ET

The way Calgary Roughnecks coach Chris Hall figures it, his club has some unfinished business to deal with this season.

The 2004 National Lacrosse League champions had their dreams of a repeat dashed last year when they lost to the Arizona Sting in the West Division semifinal at the Saddledome.

The Riggers had a trying run to the playoffs, losing a bevy of bodies to injuries but still managed a 10-6 record and Calgary's first West Division regular-season title which gave them a first-round playoff bye.

However, despite leading the Sting for much of the West semi, Calgary let Arizona take control in the fourth quarter and run away with the game -- on their home turf, no less.

"Our goal this year is to get back to the championship game," said Hall, whose club opens its NLL season tomorrow night against the expansion Edmonton Rush (Saddledome, 7:30 p.m., Sportsnet West).

"I think we left some unfinished business behind last year. With all the injuries, I thought we did well to get to where we got last year but it was in our hands in the fourth quarter of that game last year and we let it slip away."

The Roughnecks were busy in the off-season through the draft and trades and welcome back this year some key players lost to injury and off-floor commitments last year.

Defenders Rob Kirkby (trade), Grant Hamilton (unable to play due to work commitments), Andy Ogilvie (knee), Devan Wray (knee) and Ryan McNish (knee) return to the fold at the backend.

On offence, the club lost free-agent Ted Dowling but Kevin Dostie will step into his spot on the left crease. As well, rookie draft pick Callum Crawford and Matt Green (knee) will also see time with the ball.

Goaltending tandem Curtis Palidwor, who struggled at times last season, and Andrew Leyshon return to man the pipes for Calgary.

This year's edition of the Roughnecks is the deepest, biggest, fastest and most talented in the club's five-year history.

They start the season as a favourite to win the West.

"We have a great team," said Hall. "My toughest decisions for Game 1 is who has to sit. We're really strong right through our lineup."

LETTER DAY: For the first time since becoming a Calgary Roughneck, Kaleb Toth won't have a letter on his jersey this season. One of two assistants last year along with Kyle Goundrey, Toth agreed to give up his 'A' this year so a defensive player could wear it instead.

"They were going to have a vote for who the players wanted for an offensive 'A' and defensive 'A' but I said no, I'll just give mine to whoever is voted as the defensive guy to get the 'A,' " said Toth. "Kyle is a great assistant and I can be a leader without a letter. I don't need that to perform or to help lead the team."

Toth has worn an 'A' ever since coming to Calgary for the team's inaugural season in 2001-02, except for a brief period when he served as captain to finish out that year after Bruce Alexander was traded.

An NLL rule change this year requires any of the captains who come on the floor to discuss a call with a referee to stay on the floor for the next possession. So it makes sense for a defender to also wear an 'A.'

Hall said Toth's decision to give up his letter voluntarily was appreciated.

"That was great of him to do," said Hall. "He gained a lot of respect by doing that. It was very selfless."


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