Saturday, May 09, 2009

NLL final to rock the house in Calgary

Sacrifice, honor, glory – these are the traits that cover the theme of the naval exhibit of Calgary’s Military Museum, where the Calgary Roughnecks held its pre-game press conference on Friday. The venue couldn’t have been more perfect. It’s the message the team wanted to take to the Western Division final, and ultimately the National Lacrosse League final.

It’s difficult to put a finger on what it takes to get that far, but there are six on the floor who knew what it felt like to win the final exactly five years ago in 2004. That’s when the Roughnecks beat Buffalo for the Champions Cup. Five still wear the uniform: Devan Wray, Kaleb Toth, Tracey Kelusky, Andrew McBride, and Kyle Goundry. The sixth was the man who stood behind them: Coach Chris Hall. However, this time, Hall is positioned behind the San Jose bench.

The man motivating the Necks this year was also name the NLL Head Coach of the Year – Troy Cordingley. He guided the team to a 12-4 record and in just his second season, has earned a trip to the final. Ironically, Cordingley was also behind the Buffalo Bandits’ bench when his team lost the 2004 final to the Roughnecks.

The Western Final was some kind of game. In the first half alone, five goals by Tracey Kelusky and one by Matt King – the goalie, who also had an assist. The Necks outshot the Stealth 31-20 at the half and continued to roll over its opponent throughout the second half.

By the end of the third quarter, it was 15-0 for the Roughnecks, which outshot the Stealth by this point: 45-29. You could feel it in the building – Cup fever.

However, some of the bubble burst when King’s shutout was taken away in the first few seconds of the 4th when the Stealth came fast off the faceoff and scored two quick goals. But the Roughnecks held them back to only four goals and a
17-5 final. Final shots: 53-47 Calgary.

The ultimate goal was finally realized: the NLL Champions Cup will be held at the Pengrowth Saddledome on Friday, May 15 at 7:00 PM. The Roughnecks will play Casey Powell and the New York Titans – who defeated the Buffalo Bandits 9-3 to clinch the Eastern Division title. Hopefully, there will be more than the 9,639 that were in attendance for the Western Final.


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