EDMONTON -- When the Calgary Roughnecks stepped off the bus at Rexall Place yesterday, they knew what and who they were playing for.
A full fan bus made the trek from Calgary and greeted the Riggers when they arrived from Arizona, fresh off clinching a playoff spot and a home playoff date within reach.
So the Riggers went out and whipped the Edmonton Rush 17-11 last night, finishing shortly after the Arizona Sting lost 16-15 in Minnesota, giving Calgary second place in the West Division and a home playoff game.
"Forty or so of our fans were there waiting and screaming," said head coach Jeff Dowling about the loyal supporters.
"They stopped and cheered every player that got off the bus. I told the guys, 'We have to win this game to give those people another chance to root for us.' "
The Roughnecks (9-7) will host Arizona (9-7) most likely Saturday at the Saddledome, the same team Calgary beat 12-11 Friday in Glendale to clinch a playoff spot.
The hero in that game, as well as last night was backup goalie Ryan Avery, who made his second start of the season against the Rush but picked up his fourth win.
Not only did Avery shut down the Sting Friday and the Rush offence last night, he provided some spark for his own forwards by scooping up loose balls and delivering long outlet passes to teammates.
Avery earned assists on goals by Jeff Shattler and Kaleb Toth in the first quarter as Calgary built a 9-5 halftime lead against their provincial rivals.
"I coached Ryan in junior and he was my best passer as the goalie," Dowling said.
"Everyone knows he has pinpoint passing. It really opened things up for us, especially in the first half.
"I gave him the game ball afterwards and he deserved it."
When the team hit the locker-room at halftime, they found out the Sting had lost and all they had to do was hang on and beat the Rush.
Despite the fact the Rush were eliminated from the playoffs Friday when it lost in Portland, a franchise-best crowd of 14,790 showed up to cheer on their team.
But even when the Rush gave its fans something to hoot and holler about, the Roughnecks quickly brought out the boos.
Captain Tracey Kelusky led the attack with two goals and seven helpers but said he was impressed with the fight the Rush showed late.
Kaleb Toth and Scott Ranger had hat-tricks to lead the Roughnecks in scoring.