First matchup of the season between the Roughnecks and Rush.
The Calgary Roughnecks were given a luxury last weekend.
Having played their lone game of the week on Friday versus the Colorado Mammoth, the players could watch live as the Mammoth moved on to take on the Edmonton Rush, the same team the Riggers will do battle with on Friday night.
What they saw was a thorough dismantling of the Mammoth by the Rush offense, and a defence that allowed very few scoring opportunities on way to a 17-6 Edmonton victory.
“They’re like they’ve always been the last few years, a very well-coached team, very disciplined,” said Roughnecks head coach Curt Malawsky. “They run their systems very effectively.
“They’re really hot right now. We’ve got a lot of preparation to do this week. We’re going to need to be at our best.
“Like every game when we play them, it’s a battle. It’s usually a one-goal game and I don’t expect any different.”
It’s the first of four matchups this year between the Battle of Alberta rivals. Last year, the rivals accounted for the two of the top three teams in the West Division. In fact, it took a long overtime period in the final game of the season between the Roughnecks and the Rush to decide who would sit atop the West Division.
The Roughnecks are coming off a fairly dominant performance on home turf, similar to the Rush. Calgary picked apart the Mammoth defence on way to a 13-11 win, evening their record at 1-1.
“It was a big game for us to win our home opener. We hadn’t done that for the last couple years. It was a nice hurdle for us to get over. Our guys got a lot of confidence going in,” Malawsky said.
Veteran forward Dane Dobbie added, “Last weekend against Colorado was a big win for the team. We battled back last weekend. We played a good game. Our compete level was way better. This weekend is going to be a real test for our team.”
The Roughnecks have historically had Edmonton’s number in games between each other. Calgary’s won 23 games versus their provincial nemesis, a franchise best against a single opponent.
However, that’s started to change as of late, with three of the four games last year being competitive right to the very end.
“It’s just going to come down to the offences that are willing to play the price and get to those dirty areas that score goals,” Malawsky said.
“It’s just going be a war. It’s going be a battle. The team that wants it more and is going to be able to stay out of the box and push the ball in transition is the team that’s going to be successful.”
Game time is 7:30 p.m. at Rexall Place in Edmonton.