Rush 'get better every game'

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:02 PM ET

Nothing changes but the venue as the Edmonton Rush and Calgary Roughnecks get ready to resume their rivalry in Game 2 of the Battle of Alberta Friday night at the Saddledome.

After coming away with a 14-11 decision over Calgary on their home floor last week, the Rush know they have a hostile opponent in an even more hostile environment.

"Absolutely, any time you have a battle of Alberta it's going to be a huge rivalry. It's something we enjoy playing in for sure," said Roughnecks' head coach Dave Pym. "It's an intense competition and whilst we have a lot of respect for the guys that they put on the floor, we just don't like each other. It's the way it should be."

Just one season removed from an infamous bench-clearing brawl, it's no surprise the first time the Rush dropped the gloves this season was against the Roughnecks, with defender Ian Crashley getting ejected.

"That's kind of the road that I'm walking, so I've got to get used to it," said Crashley, adding it changes nothing for Friday. "In fact, I've got to step it up this week. Who knows? I might be ... well, you shouldn't put this in the paper, but I've got to keep being physical."

Although the Roughnecks aren't changing their game plan either, they will look for better execution.

"It's not a question of preparation or systems, it's guys that are just making bad decisions on the floor," said Pym. "We're not going to do a heck of a lot different in terms of what we're doing offensively to generate opportunities."

But the Roughnecks aren't the only ones looking for improvement.

"I think we seem to get better every game," said Rush head coach/GM Derek Keenan. "I still think there are some areas we need to get better in, specifically defensively I think we can be a little better.

"We're not fooling anybody, Matt Disher had a heck of a game last week so we need to tighten things up," he said.

Getting outshot 56-36, the Rush goaltender turned aside 16 of 23 first-half shots and 22 of 33 in the second.

"Let's face it, Matt Disher had a hell of a game and made some key saves," said Pym. "We outshot them two-to-one in the second half and our effort was a little bit better off the offensive end coming off the floor. It was tragic in the first half and it probably cost us the game in addition, of course, to Matt throwing down a monster game for them."

And the Rush will count on him having another one as they look to keep their three-game winning streak going.

"To be 3-1 after four is good for this group given it's a new team and a lot of new players and new coaching staff," said Keenan. "We have a pretty smart group of players who seem to get better as they get to know each other every week a little bit better as well."

LINE 'EM UP: Lineup changes to the Rush roster will include forward Ryan Powell, who returns to the team after spending last week with Team U.S.A. Rookie Scott Tinning filled in admirably with a goal and two points in his first NLL game. Defender Pat Jones is questionable for Friday after leaving last week's game due to injury.

GERRY.MODDEJONGE@SUNMEDIA.CA


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