The Edmonton Rush (5-5) improved to .500 and snapped a 12-game regular season losing streak to the Calgary Roughnecks (5-5) with an 18-13 road win before a crowd of 11,385 at Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday night.
“We are really happy, said Rush general manager and head coach Derek Keenan. "Regular season success against them hasn’t been good. It was a big night tonight. The rivalry is like no other and we finally got over that hump. We stopped using the excuse that it was a close game and went out and got it done.”
After retired Roughnecks legend Kaleb Toth was honored with the “Forever a Roughneck” distinction in an emotional pregame ceremony, the Rush jumped out to an early 2-0 lead. Calgary responded to tie the game and were ready to try and take the lead in the final seconds of the first quarter by pulling their goalie for the final shot.
However, Rush defenseman Kyle Rubisch intercepted a Roughnecks pass and fired it down the field for a long-distance buzzer beater from his defensive end to give Edmonton the 3-2 lead and they led the rest of the game.
The Rush outscored the Roughnecks 6-4 in the high-scoring second quarter for a 9-6 halftime lead. Edmonton blew the game open with five unanswered goals in the first 6:29 of the third quarter for a 14-6 lead, the last of which was an incredible diving wraparound goal by Rush rookie Mark Matthews.
Entering the fourth quarter with a 16-8 lead, Edmonton scored two goals 18 seconds apart to make it 18-10 with 5:15 left. Calgary scores three goals in the final 4:07 but the deficit was too much to overcome.
With such a heated rivalry and frustration that came with spoiling Toth’s night decisively, the two teams got into a tussle on the field after the game. The teams combined for 62 penalty minutes and both were proficient on the power play as the Roughnecks went 5-for-5 while the Rush went 4-for-6 with the man advantage.
Calgary’s transition player and faceoff specialist Geoff Snider did not play due to a suspension he received for an elbowing incident in a previous game. Nolan Heavenor went a respectable 17-for-30 (57%) in his place while Edmonton’s Jeremy Thompson went 15-for-28 (54%).
Rush forward Ryan Ward tied his career high and broke a Rush franchise record with 10 points (2+8), Jarrett Davis had five points (2+3) while Matthews (3+1), Zack Greer (3+1) and Cory Conway (0+4) each finished with four points.
Daryl Veltman recorded a team-high eight points (1+7) for the Roughnecks, Jeff Shattler had six points (3+3) while Dane Dobbie (2+2), Joe Resetarits (2+2) and Shawn Evans (2+2) all had four points in the losing effort.
Edmonton’s 18 goals tied a franchise record for most goals scored by the team in a regular-season game.
“We have some of the defensive lacrosse players in the world. We have some of the best lacrosse players in the world. Period. We need to start playing like that," said Roughnecks captain Andrew McBride. “It’s okay if you go out and lose a lacrosse game when you are competing hard and you are working but when the individual battles aren’t there and the effort isn’t there from everyone you are going to lose games.”
The two teams will meet for the fourth and final time of the "Battle of Alberta" in the season finale.
Toth's ceremony included a video about his lacrosse story from the moment he was born. Before the commemorative banner was raised, an emotional Toth gave a speech to thank his family, the Roughnecks organization, and all of the fans. He said without their love and support, he wouldn’t have been the lacrosse player he was, nor the man he is today.
“It was first class – the best part of the whole night.” said Roughnecks head coach Malawsky of the ceremony. “We were going to do everything we could to show him our respect by going out and outworking them and getting the win, but it was a tough night for all of us. We are glad for Kaleb though.”