The Calgary Roughnecks (5-4) host the Edmonton Rush (4-5) at Scotiaback Saddledome on Saturday at 9pm ET. (Photo: Brad Watson)
The Calgary Roughnecks (5-4) look to extend their 12-game winning streak against the Edmonton Rush (4-5) when they host their provincial rival at Scotiabank Saddledome for on Saturday at 9 p.m. ET. Watch live on Sportsnet ONE and YouTube via The Lacrosse Network.
Although the Rush knocked the Roughnecks out of the playoffs last season, Edmonton has not beaten Calgary in the regular season since January 2010. The teams will meet for round three of their four meetings in the "Battle of Alberta" in 2013.
"It gets a little bit painful to even talk about," said Rush general manager and head coach Derek Keenan. "We just have to get the job done. That's the bottom line. There's only one way to end it and that's win. It's time. It's been too long."
Calgary took the first game in the season series by a score of 18-15 in early February before the series shifted to Edmonton the following weekend. That game was a defensive battle as the Roughnecks won 9-8 at Rexall Place.
Roughnecks head coach Curt Malawsky expects another tight game on Saturday night.
“It's going to come down to probably the last shot wins," he said. "We expect a good challenge and we are gonna concentrate on what we need to do going in."
Calgary is coming off a 16-14 road loss to the Washington Stealth, which allowed the Stealth to pass them atop the West Division standings.
"I think the biggest motivation for our group is that we just got ourselves handed a big loss and the score wasn’t indicative of what happened," Malawsky said. "We should have lost by six or seven.”
Edmonton will play the second contest of a five-game road trip and are coming off a weekend split in their home-and-home series with the Minnesota Swarm. After an 10-8 home loss, the Rush went on the road and dominated the early portion of the game, holding the Swarm scoreless for the first 37 minutes, en route to a 14-9 win, their third victory in their last four games.
"It was just big to get the win," Keenan said. "I think we ran out of gas a little bit and lost some composure. We've got a little bit of momentum behind us. We need to keep it going."
Before the game, retired Roughneck Kaleb Toth will become the first player to receive the "Forever a Roughneck" distinction. His jersey number nine won't necessarily be retired, but that doesn't mean someone will be wearing it in Calgary anytime soon.
“It wouldn’t be happening, not on my watch, I will tell you that," Malawsky said. "[Toth] is a special player and a special person. He means a lot to everybody and myself personally.”
“It’s a very great honor for Kaleb,” said Calgary's captain Andrew McBride. "He has meant so much to the organization both on and off the floor. In the dog years, when the Roughnecks first started, he was kind of the guy that kept everything going.”
Keenan coached Toth in the early Toronto Rock years and holds fond memories of Toth's playing days, especially his game-winning goal in the final seconds of the 2000 NLL Championship game.
"A real special memory was my first full-year on the bench in Toronto when he scored that goal against Rochester with 1.4 seconds to go, " he said. "That was probably the most exciting game I've ever been involved in. It was a special night and he was the hero that night. That memory will always be there for me."
Even with what will be an emotional pregame ceremony, Malawsky feels the best way to honor Toth would be with a win.
“We will concentrate on what we need to do, and in that way, we show our respect to Kaleb with that win," he said. "We are looking to take care of what we need to take care of and Kaleb will definitely be the angel on our shoulder for sure."
NLL.com's Roughnecks beat writer Jessica Elverum contributed to this report.