Riggers not ready to say goodbye

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:09 PM ET

The Calgary Roughnecks have one more guaranteed home outing, but they aren’t planning on it being their final one this year.

It would take a Mammoth effort in the final three outings of the National Lacrosse League slate, but the Riggers still have a chance to open the post-season at home.

Starting Saturday night at the Saddledome against the rival Colorado Mammoth (7:30 p.m.), the stretch drive for the third-place Riggers

(7-6) begins as they chase down the Edmonton Rush and Washington Stealth.

They have their destiny in their hands with games at Edmonton and Colorado to finish the regular season.

“If we keep winning games, we will see where we are at the end of the year,” said Riggers top scorer Josh Sanderson.

Even if the Riggers don’t get into the top two positions in the West Division, they could host a playoff game if they advance and face a team with a worse record.

Against the Mammoth, both Tracey Kelusky (concussion-like symptoms) and Kaleb Toth (knee) are game-time decisions after missing three outings, but the prognosis is getting better.

Kelusky is on track to return but could have a setback at any point. Toth is about

75-80% ready.

Even without those players, the Riggers still have Sanderson, who is leading the NLL with 84 points.

What could be scary for the Mammoth is Sanderson went ‘cold’ last weekend in two games and only scored two goals and five assists.

While plenty of players would be happy with that output, Sanderson felt snakebitten until getting two goals against Rochester Saturday after two goal-less outings.

“I personally felt great, but I didn’t shoot the ball well,” Sanderson said.

“On Friday night (against Toronto),

I had a couple of mini-breakaways where (goalie Bob Watson) caught a little chunk of the ball. The way things have been going this year, those have been going in.

“I’m in a little bit of a slump now, but I contributed a bit more on Saturday. I felt good in both, so I’m not making any excuses.”

Heading into the final stretch, Roughnecks head coach Dave Pym has a decision to make with his goalies.

In the last home game two weeks ago, both starter Mike Poulin and reliever Matt King struggled against the Minnesota Swarm.

Last weekend, King (the

No.-1 man) played great in beating the Knighthawks, but Poulin wasn’t the reason they lost to the Rock.

King should get the call against the Mammoth.

“It’s game-by-game,” Pym said. “You know right away with Matt whether he’s on or not. He’s either real good or he fights it a bit. I believe he’s going to be real good.

“Both goalies were fantastic (last weekend). They’ve been extolling leadership in the room as well as anybody. We’re getting what we want out of those guys.”

Thanks to the oddity of the regular-season schedule, the Riggers haven’t been able to face what is their fiercest rival over the history of the

franchise.

Despite the Mammoth’s struggles this season — in which they turned over the roster and made a coaching switch in recent weeks — the Riggers won’t be taking the foot off the gas.

“They have a good team, a whole bunch of young guys,” said Riggers forward Dane Dobbie. “I played with a lot of them on the West Coast, and if they all come together at the right time, we have to watch out.

“They have played well the past few weekends, and we’re going to have a battle on our hands.”

ian.busby@sunmedia.ca


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