As head coach Curt Malawsky puts it, the Calgary Roughnecks will have a guardian angel on their shoulder come Saturday night.
Calgary will be hoisting a banner of Kaleb Toth to the rafters of the Scotiabank Saddledome in a pre-game ceremony starting at 7 p.m., giving the Roughnecks a little more motivation as they take on the Edmonton Rush in round three of the Battle of Alberta.
“It’s going to be a really big night for our organization and for the guys in the room,” Malawsky said. “We’re going to honour Kaleb and then we’re going to put our work boots on and go out and battle.
“We’re looking at taking care of what we need to take care of and Kaleb will definitely be that angel on our shoulder that night for sure.”
Toth, an 11-year veteran of the Roughnecks, will be the first inductee of the “Forever A Roughneck” program.
“I think it’s going to help having Kaleb in the building and have his support there,” said captain Andrew McBride, who is now tied with Toth for franchise record in games played at 160.
“I know guys want to put on a good show for him and show him the respect that he deserves for his great career.”
The pre-game ceremony, which includes his family, dignitaries and teammates, could cause problems for the players, who will have more time between the warmup and the start of the game.
“It will be a little bit more of a challenge than you’re used to,” said defender Scott Carnegie. “Usually you’re not involved in the ceremonies so you can ride the bike or jog in the hallway but we are going to be out there for this one.
“We will do a small warmup after the ceremony so that’ll help but it’s just being focused before that and being ready so it doesn’t affect us.”
However, the Roughnecks (5-4) will not be able to use the ceremony as an excuse. Coming at them are the Rush team who have won three of its last four games and are third in the West Division with a (4-5).
The Roughnecks have won ten straight regular season matchups against the Rush, including the two games from earlier this year.
“(Assistant coach Devon Wray) has that defence working, and coach (Derek) Keenan and (assistant coach) Todd Lorenz has the offense clicking with the possible Rookie of the Year Mark Matthews,” Malawsky said. “Last time we played them, it was a 9-8 win for us, but it’s always a war, always a battle.
“It’s probably going to come down to the last shot wins. We expect a good challenge and we will have to concentrate on what we need to do going into that game.”
The ceremony starts at 7 p.m. at the Scotiabank Saddledome.