Roughnecks pay visit to Big Apple

IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:52 AM ET

How do you get rested and prepared for a lacrosse game in the city that never sleeps?

"It's an afternoon game. We'll be setting our alarms just to hit the rink," said Calgary Roughnecks netminder Pat Campbell.

"The team has us on a tight schedule when we get there (last night). We're having dinner at the hotel then watching game tape. There will be a tight leash on us, then we're heading to the game."

The Riggers make their first visit to the Big Apple since 2003 to play the New York Titans today (10:30 a.m., nll.com, Fan 960).

The visitors lucked out in that this is one of two games the Titans will play at Madison Square Garden this season.

A half-dozen or so players are making this a winter vacation, including Campbell, whose parents and girlfriend are joining him. The foursome will take in the Broadway hit Chicago tomorrow night and won't be home until Tuesday.

Still, that's not enough time to do everything in New York City.

"We sat down and mapped out the city to make a priority list for all the sights," Campbell said. "We won't get near done what we wanted to, but that's fine.

"A lot of stuff we wanted to do is better in the summer. Going to Ellis Island would be pretty cold right now. We're going to split it up, go do the summer stuff some other time."

The Titans joined the National Lacrosse League in 2007 and the Roughnecks have never played them, home or away.

It's become an important outing for the Riggers (5-2) as they need to snap a two-game losing streak. Playing in Madison Square Gardenjust increases the excitement.

The game is early because the NHL's Rangers will host the Colorado Avalanche later tonight, which forces the in-house crew to convert back to hockey arena within a few hours.

"To play in MSG is thrilling," said Riggers defender Andrew McBride. "When (NBA stars) Kobe Bryant and LeBron James talk about the history of the building and how special it is for them, we can't help but feel fortunate to play there as an athlete.

"It's going to be one of the highlights of my career."

Roughnecks coach Troy Cordingley has tried not to get too excited about this game since the schedule came out.

As a lifelong Rangers fan, Cordingley appreciates the opportunity to take his team into the famous building.

"It's an awesome rink. I love it," said Cordingley, who was an assistant with Buffalo in 2007 when the Bandits played the Titans at MSG.

"Watching so many games on TV, when I walk in there and see the purple seats, I can hear the echoes of 'Potvin sucks.'

"Walking around the halls with all the pictures, you get a good sense of the history there. Going where the rooms are, you would think it would be more dressed up but it's not. It's just an old rink."

The biggest concern for the Riggers on this trip is to take care of business first and then enjoy the city, and the Titans won't be an easy mark.

"This is probably our toughest opponent to date," Campbell said. "I think they are better than Boston and they were the toughest so far.

"I'm hoping a lot of the guys aren't getting overanxious. We had a big game in Toronto and that led into a big week for a lot of guys. Hopefully, we'll all be professional about the weekend and earn the right to enjoy the city."

IAN.BUSBY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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