Defending Dawson a tall order

IAN BUSBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:36 AM ET

In all the games they played together, defender Bruce Codd can only remember once when Dangerous Dan Dawson wasn't so menacing.

A couple years ago, when both National Lacrosse League players were with the Arizona Sting, Dawson was called for a stick violation by lacrosse legend Gary Gait, who was coaching the Colorado Mammoth at the time.

Without his No. 1 stick, Dawson struggled to find the back of the net for one outing.

So if Codd and the Calgary Roughnecks hope to contain the Portland LumberJax star Saturday in the West Division final (7:30 p.m., Saddledome), they may need to mess with his routine somehow.

"If we're lucky, he'll leave it lying around Saturday morning and we can get a hold of it," said Codd with a laugh.

"Other than that, there's not a lot of ways to rattle him. He's such a focused guy."

In Portland's win over the San Jose Stealth Sunday, Dawson was on fire, scoring seven goals and adding five assists.

He comes into the 'Dome on a roll, which isn't good news for the home team. Dawson was a key part of the Sting squads that knocked off the Riggers in both 2005 and last year.

The 6-ft.-5 Dawson has established himself as a huge playoff performer the past four years. In West Division playoff games since 2005, Dawson's teams are 6-1, and the power righty has scored 24 goals in those starts.

So it's hardly surprising he has turned it on with the LumberJax, despite getting off to a slow start after being loaned out by the on-hiatus Sting.

"He got into one of those modes where he was pretty much unstoppable in terms of getting to the net and making shots," Jax coach Derek Kee-nan said of the win over the Stealth.

"Seven goals all went in different places, so that's very difficult for goalies to stop. He also involved a lot of other guys," Keenan added.

"He may have struggled early, but it was more of a shooting thing. The opportunities were there and he is creating opportunities for those around him."

The Roughnecks play more of a zone defence based on pressure. But Roughnecks defender Chris Seller, who also played with Dawson in Arizona, said the star is so calm with the ball that may not affect him much.

"They will be setting it up where he will be coming one-on-one at us," Seller said.

"If me or another defender get in trouble, then there will be four other guys who need to have our backs.

"So we're going to have to slide someone over to make sure he gets some help."

The Riggers can certainly look at the season series for inspiration. Dawson was held to seven goals and six assists in three games against Calgary, which won two of those outings, both at the 'Dome.

Codd will be looking for help if he gets pitted against Dawson, seeing as how he is about six inches shorter and 80 lb. lighter than the Jax star.

"He's certainly not a guy I'm going to be scoping out to pick up," Codd said. "Even in our defence, there are still situations where you still get caught in one-on-one situations with him.

"The size matchup will have me trying to cover somebody else."

HOT COMMODITIES

As of closing time yesterday, the Roughnecks had already sold about 6,000 tickets for Saturday's matchup with the LumberJax. Tickets can be purchased at Ticketmaster.ca or by calling 777-0000.


Videos

Photos