Thanks to a sweep of the San Jose Stealth Mar. 18-19, the Calgary Roughnecks can now proudly boast they are the first of the entire 10-team National Lacrosse League to claim a spot in the 2005 Champions' Cup playoffs.
The defending champions defeated their West Division rivals from San Jose 15-11 Fri., Mar. 18 at the Pengrowth Saddledome. The following night they came back from a 10-7 deficit to pull out an 11-10 win on the Stealth's home court, sweeping the series to claim their playoff spot.
On Friday, the 'Necks found themselves in trouble early, falling behind 2-0 in the first quarter. But forward Kaleb Toth and Captain Tracey Kelusky turned the game around with nine goals and five assists between them. Curtis "The Door" Palidwor's 33 saves also helped with the 'Necks 15-11 "W."
The Stealth's reply came from Malawsky brothers Curt and Derek, with a combined three goals and seven assists, as well as Spencer Martin who added three goals in the big fat "L" for the Stealth.
Saturday night was a different story. The 'Necks found themselves up 4-0 in the first quarter before the Stealth came back with seven straight goals by halftime.
Despite trailing 9-7 at the last change, the 'Necks fought back and used their league-leading powerplay to take the win 11-10.
All-Star Lewis Ratcliff rattled off three goals, and Palidwor made 35 saves. Former 'Necks forward Ted Dowling paid his former teammates back for the memories with three goals, while forward Cam Sedgwick had two goals and two assists in the Stealth's second straight "L."
But the Roughnecks didn't do it alone. Losses suffered by West Division rivals Colorado Mammoth and Anaheim Storm helped Calgary secure their playoff spot.
On Fri., Mar. 25 the 'Necks travel to Arizona to play the Wayne Gretzky-owned Sting in Glendale Arena as they continue their title defence. Surely, it will be another great match.