EDMONTON - There are those who subscribe to the adage, ‘if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.’ And then there’s Cory Conway.
Before joining the Edmonton Rush in the off-season, the six-year veteran forward spent the past two seasons on the other side of the NLL’s Battle of Alberta.
Back then, he was part of a Calgary Roughnecks team that dominated the Rush 8-0 in regular-season matchups. But now, after last weekend’s 18-15 loss to his former team at Rexall Place, Conway finds himself part of an Edmonon club that is on a nine-game regular-season losing skid against their provincial rivals.
One that they are looking to end in Saturday’s rematch at the Saddledome (7 p.m., Sportsnet ONE).
“I’ve seen (the Battle of Alberta) a few times. We play them four times this year, which is the same as last year but I’m on the other side of things,” said Conway, who played for Rush head coach and GM Derek Keenan in Portland before being reunited by a trade for Edmonton’s third-round selection in next year’s NLL draft. “It was a great experience playing for him in my rookie season in Portland.
“It was a shame that we had to kind of cut things short.”
Despite being runners up to the Champions Cup-winning Buffalo Bandits in a 14-13 loss in the final that year, the Portland Lumberjax folded their franchise and Conway spent the next two years with the Colorado Mammoth before joining the Roughnecks.
Back then, they were coming off a West Division semifinal loss to the Rush in the inaugural playoff meeting between the two Alberta clubs — a fate Calgary would suffer again last year after leading the division, only to fall 19-11 in the semifinal to an Edmonton team in the eighth-and-final playoff seed.
“It wasn’t easy,” recalled Conway, who had three assists and a loose ball in that game. “And I think that’s something that we’re all going to keep in mind here.
“You don’t have to win every game in this league, you’ve just got to win three when it counts most. You don’t have to have the best record in the league, you just have to get to the playoffs and from there, it’s a fresh start for everybody.”
Playoffs aside, what exactly is it Calgary has been able to do so well against the Rush?
“Um, I don’t know what to say there,” Conway said. “Obviously they’re a good lacrosse team. I don’t feel bad admitting that.
“(Saturday) was obviously a tough loss for us. Everyone’s excited for the rivalry and we’re a little bummed that we came up short.”
And falling to his former team made it that much tougher for Conway to take.
“For the most part, they’re a good group,” he said of his past teammates. “Once you get out on the floor, though, there’s no friends anymore.
“It’s just about trying to get a job done.”
While it certainly doesn’t hurt having someone from the other camp come over and offer a Calgary perspective, it turns out it doesn’t help all that much either.
“A little bit. We always try to take advantage of those types of situations,” Keenan said. “But ultimately it relies on the coaches to examine what the opponents do.
“It’s not like we’re not familiar with them and they’re not familiar with us. We play each other a lot, we watch a ton of film.
“We’re familiar with what they do, they do it well and it’s not always easy to counter what they do.”