January 28, 2011

Calgary Takes Game 1 in Battle of Alberta

by Kyle Galliver | NLL.com

The Edmonton Rush (0-4) lost their home opener 15-11 to the Calgary Roughnecks (3-2) in front of 8,115 fans at Rexall Place to start the season on a four-game losing streak. Calgary got back on the winning side of things after losing two in a row.

After having trouble scoring the first three games of the season, the Rush were able to hit double digits for the first time but weren't able to contain the offense of the Roughnecks.

Calgary got off to a good start, leading 4-2 after one quarter. The goals came fast and furious in a second quarter that saw 11 goals scored and the Roughnecks headed into the break with an 11-6 lead.

Rush goaltender Matt Disher was pulled midway through the second quarter after allowing eight goals on 17 shots. Brandon Atherton couldn't do any better as the 'Necks would score three more before the half was done.

Disher was back in net for the Rush to start the second half and was sharp the rest of the way, making several quality saves, including stopping Peter McFetridge on a breakaway early in the third quarter.

The two teams would each score three in the fourth to finish out the game.

Rush head coach Derek Keenan believes it wasn't goaltending or special teams that cost his team the game, but the low level of competitiveness his team showed on Friday night.

"It was the will to win and they had more than we did," said Keenan, "We've got to get our noses down to the turf and get dirty and start competing out there."

"The positive again is that we're not going to sit around for a week or two and dwell on it, we're going to go right back at it tomorrow."

"We let them beat us in all the small battles tonight, which was the difference," explained Rush forward Corey Small, who netted a hat-trick in the loss.

Scott Evans was playing his first game with the Rush after being acquired in a trade with the Rochester Knighthawks earlier in the week. Evans scored a goal in the third quarter and added two assists for a three-point night.

"I thought he was real good," said Keenan. "The chances he generated for himself and others, his battle, it's there, it's exactly what we needed, and we just need more guys playing like that."

Leading the way offensively for the Rush were Gavin Prout (2g, 5a), Corey Small (3g, 2a) and Ryan Ward (1g, 4a). Dane Dobbie (3g, 6a), Curtis Dickson (3g, 1a) and Scott Ranger (4g, 2a) led the way for the Roughnecks.

Tempers boiled over a bit at the end of the game and Roughnecks head coach Dave Pym expects an intense game when the two teams meet up again in Calgary tonight.

"It's always an emotional battle when you have division rivals. Obviously the Battle of Alberta is an intense burning kind of thing in everybody's belly in the province," said Pym. "It always makes for an entertaining game."

The two teams are right back at it Saturday in Calgary for the second half of the home-and-home weekend.

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