The Edmonton Rush journey down Highway 2 to Calgary to take on the Roughnecks in Game 3 of the Battle of Alberta Saturday night.
Aside from bragging rights and the spiffy trophy to be awarded to the winner of this four-game series, this game also has significant implications for the NLL West standings.
Calgary is currently sitting at 5-4 in a tie for first place with the Washington Stealth after getting soundly beaten by the Stealth last weekend. Edmonton meanwhile is in third with a 4-5 record following a two-game split last weekend.
Should the Rush win this game, they move up into a tie with the Roughnecks and, if the Stealth drop their Sunday contest against the Minnesota Swarm it would mean a three-way logjam for first place.
The big story for Edmonton this year has been the outstanding play of rookie Mark Matthews. He is currently tied for the league lead in goals scored with 25 and is also sixth in points with 42.
Ryan Ward is right behind Matthews in scoring, having contributed 41 points.
Kyle Rubisch is continuing to show why he’s one of the top defensemen in the NLL. He’s leading the league in forced turnovers with 25 and seventh in loose balls with 67.
The entire Rush defense is once again performing well, in fact. The team is giving up the second fewest goals per game, at 10.9.
Edmonton has won three of their last four and are playing some very good lacrosse right now.
Calgary, on the other hand, has been struggling of late and has lost two of their last three.
The Roughnecks’ goaltending has been particularly suspect during the cold streak, giving up 16.3 goals per game in the last three games with a poor .652 save percentage. Mike Poulin and Frankie Scigliano need to step their games up dramatically if the Riggers hope to stay in the hunt for first place.
The goal scoring has been fine, however. They’ve scored a league-best 14.2 goals per game, with Shawn Evans leading the team—and the NLL—with 60 points.
Transition standout Geoff Snider is leading the Roughnecks in pretty much everything else. As has come to be expected year-after-year, Snider is tops in the league in faceoffs won (183) and loose balls (143). He’s also leading Calgary in forced turnovers with 15.
Whenever Edmonton faces Calgary in any sport, sparks usually fly. so matter the outcome, this will certainly be an entertaining game. Add in the planned tribute to recently retired Roughneck forward Kaleb Toth, and this might be one for the ages.