Riggers search for motivation

IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 6:12 AM ET

All the hard work the Calgary Roughnecks have done this season may ultimately hurt them in the final month of the National Lacrosse League season.

With a two-game lead on the second-place Portland LumberJax and a playoff berth already clinched, the pressure is off the Riggers down the stretch.

So the real challenge for head coach Troy Cordingley and his coaching staff is manufacturing intensity against opponents battling tooth and nail to make the post-season.

"We know the playoffs have already started, so we have to raise the bar," Cordingley said yesterday after his team split a two-game weekend set against sub-.500 teams.

The Riggers were upset 12-10 at home Friday against the Toronto Rock, but rebounded the following night to edge the Swarm 13-10 in Minnesota.

The win clinched a playoff spot for the Riggers for the seventh straight season, but the post-season is still a month away.

Every team the Riggers face the rest of the way -- Rochester this Saturday, Portland twice and Edmonton once -- have much more on the line, although Calgary can still clinch first place in the entire NLL by sweeping.

At least the Roughnecks showed they can still win just by matching the other team's spirit, even for a brief period.

"I was a bit concerned with the way we played this weekend," Cordingley said.

"In eight quarters, probably two of them were good as an entire team.

"We have teams coming in with playoff intensity, and we're fortunate we won games early on."

With a 9-3 record, the Roughnecks could still drop another one or two games and clinch first place in the West Division.

But going into the playoffs on a roll would also be nice.

"It's nice to have breathing room," Cordingley said. "Every team's goal is to make it to the playoffs and it's a one-game shot. It's nice to know it's not the end of the world if we lay a stinker the way we did the other night.

"I like the way we clawed, grabbed and kicked and did whatever we could to stay in the game against Minnesota."

Cordingley doesn't expect to lose forward Scott Ranger after he took a cross-check to the head at the end of the win over the Swarm.

IAN.BUSBY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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