Patience, pain pays off for Riggers veteran

WES GILBERTSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:34 AM ET

It'll be weeks before the bumps and bruises heal, but you can bet it'll take at least twice that long before the smile disappears from Curt Malawsky's face.

Making his fifth trip to the National Lacrosse League final, the Calgary Roughnecks elder statesman finally won his first championship ring last night at the Saddledome, notching a goal in the Riggers' 12-10 victory over the visiting New York Titans.

His voice hoarse from celebrating, Malawsky could hardly put the feeling into words.

"This is one of the best days of my life," he said. "Just unbelievable."

Once he finally got his hands on the Champion's Cup, Malawsky didn't want to let go. He was sitting right beside the trophy in the Riggers' team photo, even planting a couple of kisses on the hardware as the shutters clicked.

Riggers assistant captain Kaleb Toth handed the trophy to the well-travelled veteran and said it was obvious what it meant to him.

"My heart kind of sank a little deeper just to see the tears in his eyes," Toth said. "He was so excited when I passed it to him. Even on the bench, he had tears in his eyes. He was crying, he was so emotional."

Malawsky, who made three trips to the big dance with the Rochester Knighthawks and one more with the now-defunct Arizona Sting, certainly paid a price to finish the job.

On a third-quarter powerplay, he parked in front of the Titans' twine and absorbed three cross-checks from tough-as-nails defender Rory Smith. The next time he hit the floor, he went back for more.

Malawsky, who celebrated his 39th birthday last weekend, was non-committal about his future.

No matter what next year brings, Malawsky can add an NLL championship to his resume.

"What a warrior," said Riggers captain Tracey Kelusky. "For him to win it and finally get one, it's unbelievable."


Photos