The Battle of Alberta got underway last weekend in Edmonton with the Calgary Roughnecks taking an 18-15 victory. The two teams travel south on Saturday to Calgary for the second of four meetings this year.
The winner of the four-game series the Roughnecks and Rush will play this year will take home the Homes By Avi Battle of Alberta Cup, so there’s some hardware on the line this year in addition to pride and jockeying for position in the NLL West.
After getting hot early and taking a quick first-quarter lead, the Roughnecks’ offense finally got going, eventually chasing the Rush’s starting goaltender, Aaron Bold, from the game.
Bold will probably get the start again this weekend as the No. 1 goalie for the Rush, but Brodie MacDonald has shown the ability to step in and perform if it isn’t Bold’s night.
Veteran Ryan Ward and rookie Mark Matthew are tied for the Rush lead in scoring, both with 21 points. They’ll be called upon once again to take on the bulk of the scoring load, with Corey Small providing support.
Calgary’s Geoff Snider won the Transition Player of the Week award for the second week in a row after scoring a hat trick, collecting 22 loose balls and winning 27 of 36 faceoffs against Edmonton.
Snider is now leading the NLL in loose balls (78) and forced turnovers (11) and is second in faceoff wins (111), behind his brother Bob of the Washington Steath.
Shawn Evans continues to lead the Roughnecks and the NLL in scoring with 37 points. Not too far behind is Jeff Shattler, with 23 points.
In fact, Calgary’s top six scorers are all in the top 30 in the NLL—no other team is as well represented at the top of the charts.
Goaltender Mike Poulin was shaky to start last weekend, but got stronger in the second half and should be good to go on Saturday.
Chances are pretty good that this game will be a much tighter checking affair than last week, but both of these teams have been lighting the lamp a lot recently; Calgary has been averaging 17.7 goals per game since they started their three-game winning streak and Edmonton has been averaging 14.3 goals per game in their last three as well.
Add it all up and this should be a high-intensity battle, with neither team giving an inch on either side of the ball.