Roughnecks have edge in experience

WES GILBERTSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:42 AM ET

Andrew McBride's first taste of the Champion's Cup final was an eye-opener.

As in laying in bed in the middle of the night, eyes wide open, thinking about the big game.

His then-roommates and Roughnecks teammates -- Brad MacDonald and Kevin Dostie -- were having the same problem.

"I didn't get much rest," McBride said. "We had pretty thin walls and you could hear everyone tossing and turning. I was up pacing around and I think I even met Dostie in the kitchen once or twice for a little snack."

McBride, now in his seventh National Lacrosse League campaign, was counting on getting a bit more shut-eye last night, the eve of the Roughnecks showdown with the visiting New York Titans.

Along with forwards Tracey Kelusky, Kaleb Toth and Kyle Goundrey, transition player Devan Wray and backstop Matt King, McBride is one of six holdovers from the Riggers squad that celebrated a Champion's Cup victory at the Saddledome in 2004.

They're back in the one-game, winner-take-all final for the first time in five years, hoping to raise a second lacrosse banner to the rafters at the home they share with the Flames and Hitmen.

Wray, who was a rookie when the Riggers won it all in 2004, is determined to cherish his second trip to the final showdown.

"You don't appreciate it as much when you sort of happen into it," Wray said. "Five years later and a bunch of failed attempts at getting back, I have much more appreciation for how hard it is to get there. It makes it that much more exciting to be back in the Champion's Cup and get another stab at it."

The Roughnecks definitely hold an edge in experience heading into tonight's tilt.

Toth owns a pair of championship rings after winning one in his rookie season with the Toronto Rock in 2000, while Josh (Shooter) Sanderson and backup goaltender Pat Campbell also captured crowns in Hogtown. Cagey veteran Curt Malawsky has suited up in four NLL finals, although he has never won a ring.

Only a trio of Titans -- defenders Bill Greer, Patrick Merrill and Dave Stilley -- have hoisted the NLL's top prize, but several key contributors are accustomed to pressure situations.

Sharpshooter Casey Powell captained the U.S. to a silver medal at the 2006 World Field Lacrosse Championship, where current Titans teammate Jordan Hall won gold as a member of Team Canada. Jarett Park won a pair of NCAA field lacrosse titles at the University of Syracuse.


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