Roughnecks defence needs its rest

WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:05 AM ET

They say the defence never rests.

Try telling that to Calgary Roughnecks rearguard Scott Carnegie, who needed some serious shut-eye after Saturday's 10-6 playoff triumph over the Colorado Mammoth at the Saddledome.

"It can be pretty exhausting," Carnegie said. "And we try to get in the shooting lanes and block some shots, so not only are you tired, but you're sore. I know my legs are pretty beat up. I've got the ice out and I'm just trying to heal up for next week."

Next Saturday, that is, when Carnegie and his Roughnecks teammates will try to ice the Washington Stealth in a semifinal showdown at the Saddledome.

Led by former Riggers star Lewis Ratcliff, the Stealth scored more often than any other National Lacrosse League squad during the regular season. In Saturday's first-round dismissal of the Minnesota Swarm, they lit the lamp 14 times.

"The fact they do score a lot of goals doesn't really psych me out. I would say for our whole team, it doesn't really faze our defence," said Roughnecks regular Peter McFetridge. "We have a lot of confidence in (starting goalie) Mike Poulin and in our defensive system, and we have a lot of faith in our offensive guys, as well."

There's no doubt the Riggers have a ton of respect for the Stealth -- they are the defending champs, after all -- but the feeling should be mutual.

Thanks to a pair of road victories in Everett, Wash., the West Division-leading Roughnecks owned a 2-1 edge in the regular-season series. Their only setback against the Stealth -- a 19-14 shelling at the Saddledome in the third week of the season -- serves as a good reminder of what Washington's offence is capable of, but the crew from Calgary is confident their in-your-face defensive scheme can be effective against even the most fearsome shooters.

"Everybody is pretty gassed after the games, but that's what we need to do," said Riggers defender Mike Kilby. "You just try to make the guys make a decision faster than they want to make it. That's the whole thing with being relentless, and I think that's what makes it successful. If you don't give somebody a lot of time and space to do what they want to do, then obviously they're not going to be as successful."

John Grant Jr., Gavin Prout, Dan Carey and the rest of Colorado's attackers can attest to that.

The Riggers delivered one of their finest defensive efforts of the season against the Mammoth, with Poulin fishing just a half-dozen balls out of his net in what was undoubtedly one of the best outings of his career.

The Carnegie brothers -- Scott and Mike -- seemed to be all over the floor, while captain Andrew McBride didn't miss a beat in his first game back from a knee injury.

From grizzled veterans such as Kilby and Bruce Codd to up-and-comers like Jon Harnett and Curtis Manning, the rest of the bunch was equally steady.

Of the season-low six goals the Riggers surrendered, three came on the powerplay and two others were scored on fast-breaks in the transition game.

"I think we put it all together in that game," said Scott Carnegie. "Looking forward, we know Washington has maybe an even more potent offence that Colorado had, so again, we'll have to stay out of the box and defensively, we'll need to bring that same effort."

wes.gilbertson@sunmedia.ca


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