Roughnecks take a break

IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:50 AM ET

Taking a week off certainly can't hurt, but a bye might not be coming at a great time for the Calgary Roughnecks.

The National Lacrosse League team has finished the first month of its schedule flying high with four straight wins.

The Riggers don't take the floor again until facing the Minnesota Swarm Feb. 6 at the Saddledome.

With a huge amount of momentum building, the Roughnecks will stay at home for Super Bowl weekend and won't even practise.

"We're feeling pretty good and on a bit of a roll here," said Riggers captain Tracey Kelusky after Saturday's 16-13 win over the San Jose Stealth at the 'Dome.

"I would like to continue playing, as most of the guys in this room would. We would like to continue to play, but we'll take a break and get ready for Minnesota."

Kelusky is among players on fire. The veteran had a goal -- his 200th with the Roughnecks -- and seven assists against the Stealth for his biggest output since the season finale in 2007.

The difference from a year ago is Kelusky is healthy. With Kelusky out with a concussion last year, the Riggers struggled to a 2-5 record.

This year, with Kelusky and lefty Josh Sanderson running the offence, the Riggers are 4-0, having scored an average of 13.5 goals a game.

By beating the Stealth twice, the Riggers have won the tiebreaker and have a three-game lead on the San Jose club, which will likely be a contender for the divisional crown.

Beating the Swarm would further distance the Riggers from the other contenders in the West Division, and the Roughnecks are much better playing from ahead.

"It's nice to have a big lead," said defender Jeff Shattler, who scored two crucial goals Saturday in the fourth quarter. "As long as you beat each team 2-1 in the series, we'll finish first in the standings, and that's what we're looking at."

Shattler is one player who is looking forward to a week off.

With seven weekends of training camp and four regular-season games since Jan. 9, players could use a break.

"A few guys are really sore," Shattler said. "We just have to keep our heads on our shoulders. If we keep playing these games the way we know we can -- we have confidence now -- we can play with any team in this league."

"Obviously, it's January and we've talked about how this is only January," said head coach Troy Cordingley. "We have a lot of work ahead of us. We're happy with the 4-0 start, but we're also realistic.

"The bye comes at a good time for us. Guys have been travelling, and we've had four games in three weeks. It's good to have that week off."


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