Still Stinging

TY PILSON -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:21 AM ET

Consider it the National Lacrosse League's version of a two-for-one deal.

Tonight's tilt against the Arizona Sting in Glendale, Ariz., provides the Calgary Roughnecks the opportunity for a big win over a divisional foe along with the added bonus of a little revenge.

The last time the two clubs met, the favoured Roughnecks folded up the tent in the fourth quarter as the Sting came from behind to beat Calgary 19-15 at the 'Dome in the West Division final.

That loss denied the Roughnecks a chance to win back-to-back league titles.

The Sting advanced to the NLL championship where they fell to the Toronto Rock at the ACC.

"As a team, we learn to remember what happens," said Calgary head coach Chris Hall, "but not to dwell on it."

The Roughnecks have downplayed their desire for retribution this week but it's clear the team views tonight's tilt as more than your average game, said Riggers forward Kaleb Toth.

"They left a lot of sour grapes with us after that loss," said Toth. "We want to come out with a hard intensity all game and not let up like we did the last time we played them."

In every pre-season poll of merit, pundits ranked Calgary and Arizona No. 1 and No. 1A in the west giving both clubs the chance to send an important message early, agreed Arizona coach Bob Hamley.

"We only play Calgary three times, so every game will be crucial for us," said Hamley. "The experts say it's Calgary and Arizona in the west, so, obviously, it's a very important game early."

Hamley expects the burgeoning rivalry between the clubs will really heat up this season.

"We're very excited," said Hamley. "There is a little bit of animosity, a little rivalry between Calgary and Arizona because of the amount of times we've played during the season and obviously what happened in the playoffs. So, we're excited for the challenge. It's still early in the season and to have a game like this early on is great for our team."

Sting forward Dan Dawson said his team expects a spirited affair tonight.

"I think Calgary is probably favoured to win it in the west," said Dawson. "So, obviously, this is a big measuring stick for us and for them, too."

"I think they'll play with a bit of a revenge factor in their minds. (Plus) they dropped one early in the season, which I'm sure doesn't sit well with them. And, they have Jesse Phillips back. I think they'll take it to the next level."

The Sting have looked solid so far with wins over the defending champion Toronto Rock and expansion Portland Lumberjax before having last weekend off.

The Roughnecks have struggled with two unconvincing wins over the expansion Edmonton Rush and a loss to the second-year Minnesota Swarm.

After playing the Sting, Calgary heads north to Portland to play the Jax. Phillips -- activated off the IR Tuesday to play his first game of the year -- said this is clearly a pivotal weekend for his club.

"This is definitely a big weekend," said Phillips. "We want to go 2-0 but going 2-0 will be tough."


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