Playoff parallels for Riggers

WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:53 PM ET

CALGARY - They've already dismissed the Mammoth.

Next, they'll welcome the Stealth to the Saddledome.

Remind you of anything, Calgary Roughnecks?

"Yeah, two years ago," grinned forward Jeff Shattler. "And it's a great feeling, but I don't even want to think about the championship right now."

The Riggers refuse to let their minds wander, but local lacrosse fans can't help but notice the parallels between their championship run in 2009 and the current playoff push.

Two springs back, the Roughnecks ousted the Colorado Mammoth in the opening round before steamrolling the San Jose Stealth in a semifinal showdown.

Then, as Riggers supporters certainly recall, their team topped the now-defunct New York Titans in the league finale to claim their second Champion's Cup crown.

Calgary's quest for a third title started last weekend with a 10-6 triumph over the Mammoth. They'll host the Stealth -- now based in Everett, Wash. -- in Saturday's semifinal round (7:30 p.m., Saddledome).

And thanks to a league-best 11-5 record in the regular season, they've earned home-floor advantage in the final (just like in 2009 when they were a league best 12-4).

If, that is, they advance.

While the Roughnecks celebrated a championship two years ago, the Stealth were the toast of the National Lacrosse League last spring, hanging the first banner in the history of their franchise.

The Riggers won the regular-season series against the Stealth this winter, although the crew from Washington was victorious in their only meeting at the Saddledome.

"The thing about the team in 2009 that's quite similar to this team is you can see the passion and the commitment to not blow this opportunity," said Roughnecks captain Andrew McBride. "You have this wonderful opportunity presented to you that doesn't come around often in sport, or in life, and I can see in the guys' eyes that we're not taking this opportunity for granted. We're going to do everything in our power to get this job done."

McBride is one of three Roughnecks that has already celebrated two Champion's Cup triumphs on the floor at the Saddledome.

Forward Kaleb Toth and reserve defender Devan Wray were also around when the Riggers won it all with a underdog squad in 2004, exceeding all pre-season expectations and knocking off the Stealth and Mammoth en route to a championship triumph over the Buffalo Bandits.

This was supposed to be a rebuilding campaign for a Roughnecks squad that features several rookies, but the kids have earned their keep and Calgary is now considered the favourite to claim the title.

"Other than playing Colorado first and the Stealth second, the comparisons to 2009 really end there," Wray said. "The thing that really strikes me about this year's team is just the togetherness of this team, the focus of the group on a common goal and going out and playing for each other and just putting all the distractions together and showing up at the rink and having fun together, which is a lot like the experience in 2004 when we won it all.

"But there's no question this is a championship-calibre team. The challenge now is going out and putting it all together."


Videos

Photos