Reloaded and ready?

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 1:32 AM ET

The last time around, it got embarrassing.

The only fight the Edmonton Rush put up against the Calgary Roughnecks was the line brawl to start the second half.

By that time, however, the game has essentially ceased to be a contest as the Roughnecks cruised to a 22-10 victory.

The Roughnecks are back in town tonight (7:30 p.m.) at Rexall Place, as the Rush play host to their last home game of the season.

"We've tried to erase that from our memory banks and hopefully we've learned from it," said Rush head coach and general manager Bob Hamley. "It was just one of those nights where they were really, really good and we were really, really bad.

"Since then we've been very good. Maybe we needed to hit rock bottom, I'm not sure. But we've found a group that we feel can compete with Calgary.They're obviously the best in the West, they've proven that time and time again. We hope we can put in a better effort and catch them maybe at a flat moment."

The Roughnecks, who have clinched top spot in the division, hosted the Portland LumberJax last night.

The Rush, meanwhile, have managed to go 2-2 since the slaughter.

They got up off the mat with a strong effort on the road against the San Jose Stealth the following week, only to fall short in the fourth quarter and lose a one-goal contest.

They then earned consecutive victories at home against the Toronto Rock and LumberJax before dropping another tight game, on the road, to the Minnesota Swarm last week.

The Rush needed that one to pull into a tie for the final playoff spot in the division, but after playing the Swarm even for three quarters, Edmonton's offence dried up in the fourth en route to a 9-7 loss.

"Both goaltenders were very good in that game," Hamley said. "I think we were outshot for the first half of the game and then in the second half, we started to come on and get some quality shots.

"I believe in the fourth quarter we outshot them 17-9, but we got outscored 3-1. It was tough; we just couldn't finish and that's been our Achilles heel all year. We've been unable to finish good opportunities.

"It wasn't for a lack of effort. I thought it was a really good effort on our part, we stuck with the game plan and (goaltender) Chris Levis gave us a chance to win. Unfortunately, we didn't get the big goal that we needed."

Despite the loss the Rush are still within a win of the next three teams in the standings - all of whom are battling for the final two playoff spots.

Even the LumberJax, who went into the weekend second in the division standings, were only two wins up on the Rush heading into last night's game in Calgary.

"It shows the type of parity in our league ... anybody can win on any given night," said Hamley.

"That's basically what's happened. Calgary has run away from it a little bit in the West and Buffalo has in the East, but everyone else is right there with everybody.

"I've never seen it this tight, but it's great for the fans because every team has a chance every night."

In order to qualify for the playoffs for the first time in franchise history, the Rush probably to need to win their remaining two games and get some help from other teams in their division.

Edmonton wraps up the regular season next week in Colorado.

However, the Rush are not looking that far ahead.

"We've been breaking it down to just five-minute intervals at a time," Hamley said.

"We've proven that if we come and play every shift we have an opportunity. That's what we have to go out and do (tonight).

"Last time we played Calgary, our first five minutes weren't very good. This time, we have to make sure those first five are the best we've had all year."

DEREK.VANDIEST@SUNMEDIA.CA


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