Riggers excited to Wing it tonight

IAN BUSBY, CALGARY SUN

, Last Updated: 8:49 AM ET

The excitement building around the Philadelphia Wings' first visit to Calgary tonight has brought a smile to Kurt Silcott's face.

The matchup should be good for the bottom line.

As for finally hosting the NLL's version of the Montreal Canadiens, the Calgary GM saw the Wings plenty when he spent a decade with Philly's arch-rival, the Buffalo Bandits.

"When I first got here, one of the first things Brad (Banister, Roughnecks owner) said was we never played Philly here, we want to see them," Silcott said. "I was seeing them all the time and sick of them. I like playing these western teams that I never got to see.

"Now that we have Philly here, I hope the fans come check them out."

In the NLL, it's a rarity to play outside your conference. Calgary has faced Philly only once in its six-year history, back in 2003.

Silcott successfully petitioned the league this off-season to get some new opponents on the home schedule, leading to the Wings visit.

In the Wings' 20-year history, the team has won six Champion's Cup titles and its roster has featured such legendary stars as Gary Gait, Tom Marechek and Dallas Eliuk.

Although the Wings haven't won a title since 2001, they still bring plenty of cache for the Roughnecks players.

"They have such a great tradition," said Riggers defenceman Andrew McBride. "I remember growing up and seeing the Wings on TV.

"That was a motivation for me just to play the sport. It's nice to play teams you haven't played much. Teams like Arizona or Colorado, we play them so much we know what they will try to do to us. Adding a fresh team makes it much more interesting."

Calgary is riding a four-game winning streak but tonight's tilt starts an important stretch that continues against Colorado on the road and home-and-away meetings with Toronto and Arizona.

The Wings come in with four first-round draft picks from 2006 in Calgarian Geoff Snider, Athan Iannucci, Ian Llord and Kyle Wailes.

The Roughnecks will key on the rookies tonight.

"If we jump on them early and make them think 'What are we running into out here,' that could get their young guys worrying about themselves," Silcott said.

Chicago and New York entered the league this season as expansion franchises and join the Rochester Knighthawks as the only teams that haven't played at the Saddledome after this season.

"It's an exciting opportunity to play all these guys we don't see much," said Calgary transition Devan Wray. "It's not like we haven't played some of those players, we just haven't gone against them in the NLL."


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