Cup could cap it for vet

IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:25 AM ET

Tonight could be the final time Curt Malawsky suits up for a regular-season National Lacrosse League game, but that may be determined in May.

If the Calgary Roughnecks go on a playoff run and give Malawsky a Champion's Cup ring, the wily veteran may just go out on top.

But as much as teammates want to win a title and reward the 38-year-old for his long career in which he lost in the final four times, Malawsky wants to get it for his teammates.

"Each and every guy wants to win for the guy sitting next to him," said Malawsky.

"This group really wants that.

"I would be elated for myself if we won it. I can't really lie about that. But there are so many guys on this team I want to win it for too."

As the Roughnecks close out the season tonight against the Portland LumberJax (8:30 p.m., nll.com), the team is guaranteed of finishing atop the NLL. At 11-4 going into the final outing, the Riggers have set a franchise record for wins in a season.

It's also the best team Malawsky has been part of, which makes him believe this could be a final chance to get the ring.

"Last weekend up in Edmonton (before a 14-13 win), I told the team that I played on a lot of teams with a lot of different guys. This is a special team," Malawsky said.

"I want to solidify that with a championship. You remember the guys you played with, but if you close it with a championship, you never forget those guys you won it with 15 or 20 years down the road.

"We won't have the same group of guys the next year. Whatever happens next year, whether I play or don't play ... I just want to close out this group and make it real special."

Malawsky had four goals in a 11-9 loss to the LumberJax last Friday at the Saddledome, but that couldn't overshadow two penalties he took that Portland turned into three goals.

The first came in the opening half and was a spearing major as Malawsky stuck his stick up to protect himself from an oncoming hit. The second was a goalie interference call late in the fourth as the team had the full-court press trying to tie the score.

Both penalties were iffy, but that doesn't make Malawsky feel any better.

"It doesn't matter what you do in terms of scoring goals, if you take penalties that's a bigger impact," Malawsky said.

"It was just effort and desperation. As a veteran guy, I have to be more aware."

After that loss, the Roughnecks got an earful from coach Troy Cordingley and then headed to Edmonton for a date the next night.

They responded with a gutsy effort against the Rush, despite being worn out.

"The bus ride up to Edmonton was sombre, and you have to love that," Malawsky said.

"We care so much. That's what makes me think this is a special group.

"I've never been on a team where every single guy wants to win so bad. It starts with the coaching staff on down. It doesn't matter who makes the big plays, we all just want to win."

The LumberJax are the only team in the West Division the Riggers haven't beat this season, but they will avoid them in the first round of the playoffs. Depending on action this weekend, the Riggers will host either Edmonton, Colorado or Minnesota in the first round.

However, they do want to beat the Jax to break a two-game drought against them.

"It's important we show Portland and ourselves that we can beat them," Malawsky said. "We're going down there to win. We don't want to head into the playoffs on a loss. They beat us twice in a row ... so we're looking to win there."


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