All or nothing for Calgary

TY PILSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:42 AM ET

Saddledome staff roll the green carpet over the ice for the NLL Champion's Cup final tonight between the Riggers and Titans.

They don't remember how, just how many.

That sports cliche is true when you win. When you lose, though, they remember the how: As in how you tanked, blew it, came up short.

Just ask this season's version of the San Jose Sharks, or, better yet, the 2008 New England Patriots.

If the Roughnecks lose the Champion's Cup final tonight against the New York Titans, everything they've accomplished to this point will be for naught.

And that's just not a cynical media guy talking here, the players have said as much themselves.

"To go to the final and something were to happen and we lost (knocks on wood), then this is all a waste of time," Calgary product and assistant captain Kaleb Toth said last weekend. "Our goal from the start is to win this league. We will be prepared."

If they're not prepared and lose, no one will care about:

- The franchise-best 12-4 record, with two of those losses coming by a single goal.

- The way they steamrolled through their first two playoff games, outscoring the opposition 32-13.

- The MVP-calibre season Josh Sanderson had.

- The breakout campaigns by forward Dane Dobbie, defender Jeff Moleski and goalie Matt King.

- The comeback seasons by captain Tracey Kelusky and Toth.

- The incredible performance by the defensive unit, which allowed a league-low average of 10.4 goals.

- Troy Cordingley receiving hard-earned head coach of the year honours.

None of it will mean a thing.

That's the reality in sports. The better you play in the regular season and through the playoffs, it simply serves to magnify the disappointment if you don't get the job done.

Not that the Roughnecks need any extra motivation with all that hanging over them, but there's also the little matter of a big 'I told you so' the Calgary players would like to serve up.

In pre-season polls and on fan message boards, many had the Riggers pegged to miss the playoffs. As the season went on, some folks still figured the team was winning with smoke and mirrors.

It was the whole Rodney Dangerfield, they get no respect thing.

During the regular season, they only received two player-of-the-week nods. Surprising considering they finished with the No.-2 ranked offence, No.-1 ranked powerplay and defence, and two goalies in the top-5 of the league in goals-against.

It got richer this week when the league announced the First and Second All-Pro teams. In what can only be viewed as laughable, Moleski was left off both. Sanderson was the only Rigger recognized.

In the first round of the playoffs, the fourth-seeded Colorado Mammoth were a popular pick to upset the Riggers. Calgary won 15-8.

When they faced Colin Doyle and the Stealth, it was talked about as a toss-up. A pick 'em in betting terms. They won 17-5.

So far, they've turned a lot of critics into believers. A win tomorrow will earn the team its second NLL title and, just as important, the respect of the lacrosse world.

Clearly, the Riggers won't lack motivation tonight.

"We've proven we're a force to be reckoned with," said defender Andrew McBride, one of six holdovers from the 2004 championship.

"And when you've had a great season like this, you've got to finish the job or else you're just one of those teams that had a great regular season and blew it in the final.

"We definitely don't want to have that label, and I think we've got too many veteran leaders to make that happen."


Videos

Photos