For four years, it was a rivalry of geography and not much else.
Both the Edmonton Rush and Calgary Roughnecks feigned a bitter feud between them similar to the Battle of Alberta in the NHL and CFL.
The fact of the matter was the Riggers were always competitive and the Rush never made the post-season.
It’s all changed now.
There’s no need for publicity stunts to build interest in Friday night’s meeting at Rexall Place (7 p.m., nll.com).
If the Rush win, they clinch at least second place and would host a playoff game for the first time in their history.
If the Riggers win, they give themselves a chance of getting into second place and hosting a playoff meeting in the Battle of Alberta.
It’s a tight lacrosse community, so the Riggers don’t mind seeing the Rush build some excitement for the game, but they also plan on breaking that momentum.
“They’ve been a decent club, but this year they are a lot better,” said Riggers captain Tracey Kelusky. “Do I wish they were not as good? Absolutely.
“The fact of the matter is they are good now and we have go through them to get where we want.”
Defender Bruce Codd, whose day job is technical director for the Alberta Lacrosse Association, senses a buzz around the province now that both teams are strong.
“Usually, when we play the Rush, there isn’t this much excitement,” Codd said. “This makes it fun.
“What makes a rivalry is that stuff around the games. It’s no fun when both teams aren’t competitive, or one team doesn’t win any games.
“That’s not the case now.
“This is obviously the biggest game in the history of these two franchises, at least head to head. It’s going to be exciting.”
The Rush conclude the regular season Saturday night when they visit the Washington Stealth, and Edmonton has some issues going into the final two outings.
In the past three games, starting goalie Matt Disher has been yanked due to a slow start, but backup Brandon Atherton picked up relief wins in two outings before losing his start against the Colorado Mammoth.
The Riggers aren’t completely happy with their play either. Although they beat the Mammoth last Saturday, Kelusky sees it as masking over problems. They took undisciplined penalties, played sloppy on offence but came back from a four-goal deficit.
“We pulled it out, but it wasn’t pretty,” Kelusky said.
“We have to look at the underlying factors as to why we’re playing badly.
“We can’t lose this as a deodorant. If you have a bad smell, do you have a shower or do you put deodorant on? Right now, it seems we’re using deodorant a lot.”