Chasing Stealth a Rough task

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:58 AM ET

The door that looked closed earlier is now slightly ajar.

When the Washington Stealth jumped out to an undefeated start and the Calgary Roughnecks were 1-3, the West Division appeared to be in control by the former San Jose residents.

The Riggers have since won two straight, and the Stealth dropped their first of the season last weekend, so now the gap doesn't seem so large.

But the Stealth already have a one-game lead in the three-game season series due to beating the Riggers 16-15 Jan. 23.

So Friday's meeting in Everett, Wash. (9 p.m., nll.com) is crucial for the Riggers' hopes of winning the division again.

"We need to win this game to give ourselves a chance at winning the season series against them," said head coach Dave Pym.

"We have them twice in our next three, so this could decide it. This is a must-win for us if we want to catch the front-runner in our division."

The Riggers have a bye next week, followed by visits from the Philadelphia Wings and Stealth again.

The next month will go a long way to deciding positioning as the team passes the halfway point of the season.

But first, the Riggers are ready to take care of business Friday night.

"We can put them at two losses and give ourselves a chance at getting back in the division race," said defender Bruce Codd.

"A few weeks ago, some people were saying there was no hope for that.

"That's a bit more incentive. This can be a bit of payback for the first meeting here. I thought we played well enough to win that night, but we gave up 16 goals. It's certainly a game we want for many reasons."

The Stealth were red-hot before losing 16-12 to Minnesota last week.

"We can't take much from that loss," said Pym.

"They dropped two defenders in the first quarter ... so they were down to seven defenders. It doesn't matter what system you are running, you will start taxing your back end. It makes it that much easier for offences to operate.

"They are an up-tempo, run-and-gun team, and we will be challenged again."


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