No sneak attacks for Riggers

IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:38 AM ET

They have lived up to their name and flown under the radar this National Lacrosse League season.

But the San Jose Stealth aren't going to take the Calgary Roughnecks by surprise.

Although the Stealth finished third in the West Division with a 7-9 mark, their record hides how strong they finished and how dangerous they can be.

Before a meaningless loss in Toronto to finish the regular season, the Stealth won four of five games to get into the playoffs after a 3-7 start.

They have arguably the best player in the world in Colin Doyle.

Coming off a 15-8 pounding of the overmatched Colorado Mammoth Saturday, the Riggers aren't exactly getting overconfident heading into Saturday's West final at the Saddledome. (7 p.m.)

"We need to have another performance like this one," said Riggers head coach Troy Cordingley after Sunday's win. "We actually need to raise the bar. We're facing a team that, in the last half, was the hottest team in the NLL. They are well- coached, so they will be prepared for us. It's going to be a battle."

When the Stealth were 3-7, they made a move to promote former Roughnecks head coach Chris Hall as a replacement for Jeff Dowling.

Coincidentally, Dowling replaced Hall as coach of the Riggers during the 2007 season. Hall coached the Roughnecks for five-plus seasons and was on the bench for the 2004 Champion's Cup win.

One of the big changes Hall made was to start Tyler Richards in goal, and the rookie 22-year-old rattled off three victories, all against division opponents.

"They have obviously changed some philosophies and things like that, so we have to do our homework," Cordingley said.

The Stealth may have done the Roughnecks a favour by knocking off the Portland LumberJax 20-16 because Calgary has struggled with the Jax in the past two seasons. But that doesn't mean they won't face a tough test from San Jose.

Doyle can take over a game, and he was recently voted the man fellow players want with the ball when a game is on the line (nllinsider.com poll).

The veteran led the NLL in points this season because of his playmaking ability, and he has great shooters to feed in Jeff Zywicki and rookie-of-the-year candidate Rhys Duch.

"They have one of the most potent offences in the league," said Riggers defender Andrew McBride. "They will be tough, but I like how we have a home matchup. It's going to be a game not to miss."

The Riggers do have the confidence of coming off their most complete effort of the season. They appear to be peaking at the right time, which says something about a team that went 12-4.

"We started this season at the bottom of the hill, and it felt like we've just kept rolling it up the hill," McBride said.

"We're almost at the top. With hard work and all the little things, we're going to battle against San Jose and, hopefully, keep that ball rolling."

Jax saying bye to Portland

The LumberJax are on the move. The team announced yesterday they will no longer operate in Portland and will try to find a new home next season.

"We are currently exploring options for the future," said LumberJax executive vice-president Brian Silcott. "For numerous reasons, including the current economic climate, it has become increasingly difficult for our owners to continue funding the team at the level necessary to ensure future success in Portland.


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