Ex-Rock stars West's best now

IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:44 AM ET

For two seasons, Shooter was the disher, and Doyle was the finisher.

And they were the most dangerous tandem in the National Lacrosse League.

Now the occasional teammates have split up and have made two separate teams explosive on offence.

When Calgary Roughnecks lefty Josh (Shooter) Sanderson and San Jose Stealth lefty Colin Doyle were with the Toronto Rock in 2005-06, the duo had the most productive seasons of their careers prior to this campaign.

They won the Champion's Cup in 2005, a year when Sanderson set the record for assists in a season, a mark he bettered this season with the Riggers.

Doyle had 42 goals and 69 helpers in '05 for a career-best 111 points. But he equalled that total this season with the Stealth, making a great matchup tomorrow night at the Saddledome in the West Division final.

"We have good chemistry when we play together but we've battled growing up," said Sanderson, who plays summer lacrosse with Doyle in Brampton. "Even as kids, the Orangeville-Kitchener rivalry is a big one. I played him all during minor and junior, now senior and pro. I've faced him my whole life, so I know how difficult it can be for opposing teams."

Doyle has transformed his game over the years. Once a pure scorer, the 6-foot-3, 215-pounder has adapted as defences changed the way they covered him. He challenged Sanderson all season for the assists record along with Boston's Dan Dawson.

"He gets way more double teams because of his size, way more than a guy like me would," said Sanderson, who is 5-foot-7.

"If they double him, he will find others who are open and that's happening now."

Doyle was traded from the Rock to San Jose before the 2007 season, and Sanderson was dealt to Calgary midway through last season.

Since then, the Rock offence hasn't been the same, while both the Stealth and Roughnecks have improved drastically. When Doyle plays with Sanderson, he is better being that Shooter is a creative passer.

"It was great playing with Josh," Doyle said. "It was different trying to get used to it. The guys in Calgary will probably say the same thing and they spent the latter half of last year getting used to him.

"Once you figure it out, it gets easier for everybody. He's never been one to pad stats. His job is just to make the team win.

"He makes his teammates better in the process and he does a good job figuring out how to do that. It says something about what a lacrosse player he is every time he does that.

"I think the world of him. I love playing with him every chance I get. I can see the guys in Calgary are reaping the benefits of him right now."

Both Sanderson and Doyle are coming off a national title from the summer season as Brampton captured the Mann Cup.

So who has the momentum now?

"Come Sunday morning one of us won't have it anymore," Doyle said with a laugh. "Playoff lacrosse with a one-game knockout -- it will come down to whoever plays a better game."


Videos

Photos