Riggers pass vital first-round test

TY PILSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:00 AM ET

One and done has become an all too familiar scenario for the Calgary Roughnecks come the playoffs.

Since their Cinderella run to the 2004 Champion's Cup title in just their third season, the Riggers have only won one post-season game.

Well ... make that two after yesterday's 15-8 victory over the visiting Colorado Mammoth.

When the Roughnecks beat the Buffalo Bandits before a sellout crowd at the Saddledome back in '04, players, pundits and, most importantly, fans no doubt expected a few more championship banners would be hanging in the rafters of the Dome by now.

Instead, the franchise found a way to lose in the playoffs under every conceivable circumstance -- as a high seed, a low seed, battling injuries, playing healthy ... Didn't seem to matter.

Worse was the fact three of their five playoffs losses came at the Dome, most recently last season when they fell to the Portland Lumberjax after advancing past the first game of the playoffs for the first time since 2004 with a first-round win over the Mammoth in Denver.

Home-floor advantage, minus last change, means much less in lacrosse than hockey. Sure, it's your barn and your fans, but other than noise, it's not much of an advantage.

In the Roughnecks' case, it's often been a disadvantage for some strange reason.

Which is why yesterday's victory was as welcome as it was impressive.

The Riggers went a league-best 12-4 this season to secure the No.-1 seed in the loop. They were 7-1 on the road -- only 5-3 at home.

So while the win was, first and foremost, the difference between playing further into May or booking early tee times, it also bodes well for a franchise which can play out the post-season at the Dome thanks to their top regular-season record.

"It meant a lot (to get this win)," said forward Kaleb Toth, the team's longest standing member. "We know we have a great team. Confidence is a big thing, and we have a lot of confidence right now."

They often had confidence in the past, too, though.

Captain Tracey Kelusky -- who had two huge early markers in yesterday's win -- prefers to look ahead, not back.

"At the end of the day, I hate comparisons," Kelusky said. "The whole coulda, woulda, shoulda. We are focused on winning this year and getting the job done."

Which is exactly what they did yesterday.

Sure, the win wasn't perfect. But it was a solid outing.

Matt King was great between the pipes, and the team's vastly underrated defence was stellar against the offensively gifted Mammoth.

Still, no one at the Dome was complaining yesterday.

They got what they came for: A home victory.

Just two more to go and that 2004 championship banner will finally get some company in the rafters.


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