Riggers in Rush to kibosh skid

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:01 PM ET

Through seven years of contending, the Calgary Roughnecks have experienced several ups and downs, but they never went a month between wins.

In the five years of the Edmonton Rush, it has never beat its provincial rivals twice during one season.

If the Riggers don't get a better effort Friday in a rematch of the Battle of Alberta (7:30 p.m., Saddledome), they run the risk of having their first four-game losing streak since the expansion year of 2002 and dropping a second straight to the Rush.

"If we're worried about losing four in a row, we're probably not focused on the things we should," said defender Bruce Codd. "In this league, it's tough to put together streaks. We're looking at putting one together. We need to get our confidence back. It's not something we're worried about if we lose four in a row, per se, as much as we are focused on winning this game this weekend."

In 2002, the Roughnecks went 4-12 with an expansion team and finished the season with nine straight defeats.

Since then, the team has suffered through a handful of three-game losing skids, but has always regrouped and stopped it there. So, coming off a 14-11 defeat last Saturday at the hands of the Rush, the Riggers risk losing the season series to Edmonton for the first time since it joined the league in 2006. They haven't won since beating the Minnesota Swarm 12-7 in the home-opener Jan. 10.

"We can't afford to continue dropping games to teams in our division," said head coach Dave Pym, whose team has lost to Minnesota, Colorado and Edmonton since.

"This is certainly not the start we wanted, but we're taking the positives from our play (against the Rush). When you outshoot a team 56-32, you should win."

Before heading to Edmonton, the Riggers wanted to work on their defence, and that was taken care of by allowing just four goals five-on-five.

The problem went to the transition game, with the team getting just one goal from the back end and the offence having trouble getting off the floor after turnovers.

"We're just not playing good enough," said forward Kaleb Toth. "We need to be better all over the floor. It's not just one thing.

"We have to come to the mentality that teams are coming out for us. We won't just beat them because we're the defending champions. We have to prepare better and come to perform.

"When you are on a losing streak, it's tough to get out of because it sticks with you. You tend to get down on yourself."

The goaltending was also a sore spot as starter Matt King was pulled and Chris Levis replaced him. The Rush managed to get 14 goals on 36 shots, and the Riggers traded Levis to Colorado for a second-round draft pick and sent a first-rounder to Boston for Mike Poulin.

King, who was with the Riggers in 2002, will get the start again and try to stopping the losing streak.

"I'm pretty confident this year it's not going to be nine," King said. "Hopefully, we stop it at three and don't get to that four-spot ... That first year, in particular, in Calgary was pretty tough, so they're very different teams."

In both of the past two losses, the Roughnecks' opponent has taken a major penalty and it's turned into scoring opportunities. Against Washington, the Riggers allowed three shorthanded goals off a second-quarter major. The Rush managed two shorthanded goals on a similar major taken after a Roughnecks goal.

"That's one of the most glaring things in the past two games against Washington and Edmonton," said defender Devan Wray. "When we have an extra body on the floor, there should be no way they are scoring."

IAN.BUSBY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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