Riggers shoot for respect

IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 1:38 PM ET

One more win would give the Calgary Roughnecks a division title and the best record in franchise history.

But the National Lacrosse League team is looking for something more important in their minds: Respect.

They figure the only way to get that is by winning their final three regular-season games to head into the playoffs with the league's best record and on a five-game win streak.

"We probably don't get as much respect as we should," said veteran defender Bruce Codd.

"We haven't really had players honoured all year long in weekly awards. There have been lots of candidates.

"We use some of it as motivation. We put gas on the fire seeing as how people don't really give us the credit we think we deserve.

"By the same token, we haven't really won anything yet, so we're going out every game to prove ourselves."

The final two weekends of the regular season start tonight against the Portland LumberJax at the Saddledome (7:30 p.m., nll.com).

The Roughnecks play the Rush in Edmonton tomorrow night, and finish on the road in Portland next Friday.

Finishing first in the West Division could almost be a bad omen.

No team that won the West in the regular season has gone on to win the Champion's Cup.

"It doesn't mean anything," Riggers head coach Troy Cordingley said about the home-floor advantage that accompanies the No. 1 seed.

"Nothing is guaranteed in this league. I've been in it forever and things happen.

"In 2006 in Buffalo, I thought we had one of the best teams ever, both defensively and offensively. Colorado came into our house and totally kills us (for the Cup).

"Nothing surprises me anymore. The team that wins it is the one who plays three consecutive games real well."

To prepare for that three-win stretch needed for a title win, the Roughnecks are going to use the regular season as a trial run.

It wouldn't matter if the Riggers lose one of these games, but they aren't treating it that way.

"If we get that mentality going, by the time playoffs come around, we'll be ready," said defender Jeff Shattler.

"Every game until the playoffs we're treating as a playoff game.

"We feel if we lose this, we're out."

The biggest question for the Riggers down the stretch is who will get the start in goal. Matt King has started six straight games, but was pulled in favour of Pat Campbell in two of the last three.

Cordingley is going back to King tonight, but feels confident in Campbell if his starter gets off to a rough start.

"I'm not saying who is backup and who's the starter," Cordingley said. "We're still fighting that as coaches. We have to see who we play.

"Paddy came off the bench last week and how good was he? He's done it for so long in this league. Matt has done it well, too. We're fortunate that if the guy we choose to go with, we have someone good coming off the bench."

Knowing they will open the playoffs at home shouldn't be too comforting for the Roughnecks.

They haven't won a home playoff game since the Champion's Cup victory in 2004, a stretch of three outings.

"Hopefully, we break that this year," Cordingley said. "All of last season, we heard about how this team hadn't won a playoff game since the Champion's Cup win.

"We got over that hurdle by beating Colorado in Denver."

IAN.BUSBY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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