EDMONTON - The Edmonton Rush are in danger of going 0-3 to the Calgary Roughnecks.
That’s not games, either. That’s regular seasons.
After going 0-8 in the last two regular-seasons worth of the Battle of Alberta, the Rush dropped their first of four 2013 meetings, 18-15, in front of 7,349 on kids-get-in-free night at Rexall Place Saturday.
“It was a heck of a game. There were points in the game where it could have been anybody’s to take,” said Rush head coach and GM Derek Keenan, whose squad fell to 1-3 on the year. “We gave it everything.
“Probably at the end of the day, their special teams was better than ours and that’s what the game came down to, really. A lot of it had to do with Mike Poulin, I thought he played unbelievable.”
Calgary’s goalie stopped 45 of 60 shots in the winning effort, while Brodie MacDonald was tagged with the Rush’s second loss in as many weekends in relief of Aaron Bold, who came down with the flu.
Edmonton got into some penalty trouble late in the third quarter, which led to a pair of Scott Ranger power-play goals that sent Calgary into the fourth ahead 14-12.
Curtis Dickson made it five-straight Calgary goals with half a quarter to go in the game, before they ran into penalty trouble of their own.
Rush forward Jarrett Davis scored with a two-man advantage and Cory Small bagged another on the power-play to trail 16-14 with three minutes left.
First-overall draft pick Mark Matthews pulled Edmonton within one inside of two minutes.
But it was as close as Edmonton would get, as Roughnecks defender Jon Harnett easily outlegged a six-foot-seven, 270-pound Rush goalie Brodie MacDonald — who was on the bench to provide the extra attacker — for the empty-netter, before Geoff Snider fluffed up the cushion to three goals.
“We battled hard but Calgary’s a great team and they obviously out-scored us (Saturday) night,” said Matthews, Edmonton’s leading scorer who was held to a season-low two goals and no assists. “It was a battle all night and we have to look at the things we did well and work on those next week.”
After trailing 3-1, Edmonton scored five-straight goals before Calgary tied it 7-7 in a second quarter that saw the lead change hands twice before ending tied at 10-10.
Both teams had a lead in the third quarter before Calgary pulled away on the power-play.
The foes meet next Saturday (7 p.m., Sportsnet ONE) for a rematch in Calgary’s Saddledome, where the Roughnecks will look for their fourth straight win after starting the season 0-2.
It’s a game that will feature two teams that are winless at home this season.
“We’re starting to bond and we are starting to get the systems down,” said Calgary forward Dane Dobbie. “Hopefully we can win at home next week. We are 0-2 there. Our crowd is really big for us there and we need to get them a win.”
Battle of Alberta goes prime time
The Battle of Alberta has gone primetime this season.
All four games between the Edmonton Rush and Calgary Roughnecks on the NLL's 2013 docket have been picked up by Sportsnet ONE, including Saturday night's.
In a league where Canadian teams outside of Toronto have become accustomed to appearing online — this season's slate can be found on the NLL's Youtube channel — it tends to have a bit of an effect on a player.
“It can be,” said Rush defender Chris Corbeil. “And I think the approach we headed into this weekend in a televised game and a game against our rivals we just tried to approach it as normally as we would and not get the nerves any higher than they normally would be against any other opponent.
“Part of the problem and the struggle we've had against these guys in the past is we get a little too worked up and a little too anxious before we play them.”
Which seems to be a better formula for success in a playoff atmosphere when there is a lot more build up, but not so much during their more day-to-day, hum-drum regular season meetings — in which the Rush have dropped all eight instances to Calgary over the past two seasons.
“We're capable of playing well against them and we know what we're capable of doing.”
Game in 5 Minutes
POWER PLAY D
PENALTY KILLING F
1. Jeff Shattler, F, CAL
The Roughnecks set-up man had a game-high eight points and six assists in the winning effort.
2. Ryan Ward, F, EDM
Led the Rush with a hat-trick and four assists, leaving him three-points shy of setting a new all-time club record.
3. Brodie MacDonald, EDM
Coming in in relief of starter Aaron Bold, who came down with the flu along with roommate Mark Matthews, MacDonald stopped 17 of 29 shots. Bold allowed six goals on 12 shots.
WHY THEY LOST
This young rush squad is still finding things extra streaky in a streak-happy league. Special teams let them down Saturday.
Trailing 7-6 in the opening quarter, Roughnecks F Dane Dobbie fired a shot that missed the net but managed to bounce right back onto his stick as he not only tied the game on the mulligan, but captured the lead for his team 46 seconds later.
Rush G Brodie MacDonald shut the door on Roughnecks F Curtis Dickson on a penalty shot early in the third quarter.
Rush T Jimmy Quinlan, the team captain, was left on laying in the floor in front of Calgary's crease while a trainer looked at his left knee — which looked eerily similar to the position Roughnecks F Dane Dobbie was in before limping off at the start the third quarter as Quinlan was defending against him.
On their way to their respective benches as the play shifted to Edmonton's offence, Rush D John Lintz took a stick shot from Calgary F Scott Ranger, who was absolutely upended by inevitable retaliatory shot he took.
The rematch goes next Saturday at 7 p.m., with the Rush making the trip to the Saddledome for their second of four regular-season meetings.