Neck and 'Necks

DARREN FRIESEN -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:37 AM ET

There are many things Chris Hall and Gary Gait would disagree about but, in the case of the Calgary Roughnecks versus the Colorado Mammoth, the head coaches are singing the same tune.

Hall, who's guided his Roughnecks to a 1-1 start, admits there is a growing rivalry between the clubs.

"I don't think there's a dislike between the teams but I think there's a mutual respect that fuels a high level of competition," said Hall.

"Both clubs respect each other a great deal and know they're both great teams."

Gait, who brings his National Lacrosse League defending champions (3-0) into the Saddledome Saturday (7:30 p.m.), couldn't agree more.

"We're perennially two top teams in the Western Division and any time we're playing against each other, it appears as a heated rivalry," Gait said.

"It's two teams just trying to prove they're the best."

Intensifying the rivalry this time around will be the fact Colorado ended Calgary's season last year, beating the 'Necks 18-17 in OT in the West Division semifinal.

Both teams, however, have seen plenty of personnel move on since that playoff game in Denver.

For those who remain, the pain is still there.

"A lot of us look at that game as the championship game because if we win that game ... Colorado beat Arizona pretty good and they went into Buffalo and beat up them for the championship," said 'Necks captain Tracey Kelusky.

"Them coming into Calgary the week before that playoff game -- our fate was in our hands last year because we played them in a double header to end our season -- and they came in here and embarrassed us. It's definitely bitter for us."

For the 'Necks, eight new faces enter the lineup this season while the Mammoth snipers Chris Gill and Dan Stroup joined the Edmonton Rush last summer.

Their departure hasn't stopped the Mammoth from succeeding in the standings but Gait admits his team is still trying to find its groove.

"We're still working to improve our offence and find the chemistry and I don't think we're there yet," said Gait.

MILESTONE ON HORIZON:

Calgary's Tracey Kelusky will play in his 100th NLL game Saturday against the Mammoth.

For the 31-year-old Peterborough, Ont., native, reaching the century mark is kind of bittersweet.

"I hadn't thought too much about it," said Kelusky, who is playing in his fifth season with the Roughnecks. "Its seems like yesterday I was donning a jersey for the Columbus Landsharks. It goes by real quick and, if anything, it gives you a rude awakening. I'm going to cherish it."

QUICK STICKS:

Roughnecks defender Ryan McNish has been activated from the holdout list and F Derek Tom has been reassigned to the practice roster. McNish missed last weekend's game due to work commitments.


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