Devan Wray isn't the least bit conflicted.
He knows exactly where his loyalties lie. Wray may have grown up in Edmonton and is good friends with several members of the Edmonton Rush, but he and his brother Taylor are Calgary Roughnecks through and through.
"It's going to be a lot of fun playing against my hometown team, but for myself, there's not going to be any love lost," said Wray, whose Roughnecks host the Rush in the first edition of the National Lacrosse League's Battle of Alberta tonight at the Saddledome.
When he initially took up lacrosse, Wray's first coach was Jamey Bowen, now one of the Rush's key offensive players.
Both Wrays went on to play field lacrosse at Duke University, but in the summer Devan returned to Edmonton and suited up with guys like Chris Stachniak, Colin Sherbanuk and Kevin Howard - all of whom now wear the black and silver of the Rush.
There might be time for a pat on the back after the game, but when the whistle blows, friends become foes.
"There won't be anything extra because it's Howie, but nobody's going to hold anything back either," said Wray. "It's our season opener and we want to make a statement.
"They've got something to prove and they're going to come out hard. They've got a big task ahead of them living up to (Rush owner) Bruce Urban's predictions."
Howard has had the clashes against Roughnecks circled on his calendar since the day he signed on with the Rush. Howard, who was acquired by Edmonton from the Roughnecks in the NLL Expansion Draft, asked for a trade from Ottawa to Calgary following the 2003 season. He realized he would be down on the depth chart with the Roughnecks but after living the "lacrosse gypsy" life for a few years, it was time to get a career started in Edmonton.
"I knew the situation going there that I was behind Tracey Kelusky, Kaleb Toth and Jason Wulder. But once I got there I wanted to play and they never gave me the chance," said Howard.
Like Howard, Jordan Sundher has a point to make to the Calgary coaches. Although he holds the record for most career faceoff wins in Roughnecks' history (233), Sundher asked for a trade to Edmonton because of a lack of playing time.
"I'd like to show them that maybe they made a bit of a mistake," said Sundher, who was picked up by the Rush during training camp in exchange for a conditional draft pick.
The ties between the two teams run even deeper.
Wray's parents, Barb and Dave, are season-ticket holders for both the Rush and Roughnecks and Dave is vice-president of the Edmonton Miners junior team which is coached by A.J. Jomha - the Rush's director of lacrosse operations. But there's no doubt who the Wrays will be cheering for when the two teams collide.
"None at all. Blood is thicker than water," chuckled Dave Wray. "A lot of the Edmonton guys have played for me in the past and it's good to support them, too. As long as nobody gets hurt."