Room to roam

TY PILSON -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:41 AM ET

Most people don't like being a third wheel but it suits Calgary Roughnecks forward Lewis Ratcliff just fine.

Despite leading the National Lacrosse League club in regular-season and playoff scoring the last two seasons, opposing defences tend to first key on righties Tracey Kelusky and Kaleb Toth giving Ratcliff, a southpaw, extra room on the other side of the floor.

"That definitely opens the floor for me," said Ratcliff, a Victoria, B.C., resident. "I still get good defenders on me but I'm not the focal point of their defence, usually, which is fine by me."

Against the expansion Edmonton Rush last Friday, Ratcliff led Calgary with five goals and an assist in an 11-9 season-opening victory at the 'Dome on a night when the rest of Calgary's offence sputtered.

The Roughnecks host the 1-1 Minnesota Swarm tonight (7:30 p.m., Saddledome) before travelling up to Edmonton tomorrow to face the 0-2 Rush at Rexall Place.

Ratcliff has developed the reputation of a sniper who can put the ball in the net from any angle. He's also developing a penchant for clutch goals, which he furthered in the win over the Rush.

The Roughnecks led 7-3 at the half but the Rush had gone on a 5-2 run to trail by only a goal midway through the fourth quarter.

During a timeout, Calgary coach Chris Hall called a one-on-one isolation play for forward Kyle Goundrey but Ratcliff quickly asked for Hall to put the ball in his stick.

"I felt good out there last game and I was getting to the net," said Ratcliff. "They called the play for Goundrey and I said let me have a go and I knew if I got a one-on-one, I could get a good shot off. It actually didn't turn out like I planned it. Jordan (Sundher) played pretty good D on me but I got the shot off and was lucky enough to bounce it in."

Ratcliff never doubted he would bury the ball on the play.

"It's a confidence thing," said Ratcliff. "When the game is on the line, there's certain players who step up and want the ball in their stick and certain players in the league who tend to kind of shy away and want someone else to pick the team up.

"I'm definitely confident in my game and I want the ball in my stick at the end of the game or whenever the team needs a goal."


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