Talkin' 'bout bad blood

SCOTT ZERR -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:10 AM ET

Could the war of words turn into a war on the floor?

It's possible that the heated verbal exchanges between the Calgary Roughnecks and Edmonton Rush may lead to fisticuffs left, right and centre tomorrow night when the teams meet at the Saddledome.

Or, it may be just a hard-hitting game.

"I think it will clearly be spirited," said Chris Hall, head coach of the Roughnecks. "It certainly has been intriguing (this week). There's been some spirited volleys that have added some excitement, but I don't think they're going to be a distraction. They should fire up both teams."

The fireworks started when Rush owner Bruce Urban took out an ad in the Calgary Sun proclaiming that his club was bringing a can of whoop-ass to feed the Roughnecks.

Calgary's crew, particularly captain Tracey Kelusky, shot back and Urban didn't back down. It all leads to expectations of some nastiness on Friday and then again Jan. 21 in the return home game for the Rush.

"I think there was going to be some bad blood anyway because we play them so many times (four of 18 games)," said Rush head coach Paul Day. "But these back-to-back games are great for the fans. The ad was great marketing and it's really generated some press and energy about the game."

MORE LINEUP TOUGHNESS?

The Rush are likely to alter their lineup to add some toughness for the encounter with the big change being the season debut of Buck Stobart.

The six-foot-four, 240-pounder will add some physical presence at the back end, but there's more to his game than size.

"Buck is very big and strong, but he's also very athletic," said Day. "He can run with the ball and makes plays happen off the transition."

Stobart, a former captain of Canada's under-19 rugby team, refuses to be looked at as a one-dimensional addition to the roster.

BACKING UP TEAMMATES

"I'm always 100% there to back up my teammates, but I'm not a guy who goes looking for fights," said Stobart, who missed the season opener with tendinitis in his foot.

"A fight can fire up your team or the crowd or get you into a game and I do enjoy that but I wouldn't say that I love to fight. I like to think I'm more like Chris Pronger, who plays physical and can play the game - rather than Georges Laraque."

That being said, Stobart is well aware that there's a very good chance he'll wind up dropping the gloves with someone from the Roughnecks. And the 'Necks definitely have their fair share of sluggers with the likes of Andy Ogilvie, Ryan McNish and Matt Green.

"Ogilvie is not only one of the best players I've ever seen, he's one of the best fighters I've ever seen," said Day, a former junior teammate of the 40-year-old Ogilvie in Peterborough.

"I've known for two months that our four games against Calgary were going to be huge because they are the biggest and toughest team in the league," added Stobart. "Fighting may not be my favourite thing but I'm not reluctant. If I'm challenged, I'll fight."

"I think we're a team that's full of tough guys who are very gritty. We have a team toughness mentality," said Day.


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