Roughnecks expect physical affair

WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:14 PM ET

This time, they can settle the score on the floor.

When the Calgary Roughnecks faced off against the Washington Stealth in late January, Saddledome security was summoned to prevent a halftime skirmish between the coaches in a highly-charged contest that featured eight fighting majors.

The National Lacrosse League squads will renew acquaintances Sunday in Everett, Wash., their first meeting since the Stealth posted a lopsided 19-14 victory over the homestanding Riggers.

“This week is about getting a win,” said Roughnecks captain Andrew McBride. “If the bad blood comes up, it’s probably because somebody did something in that game that is really going to spark the emotions, but I don’t think things really carry over. We’re not sitting here saying, ‘Oh, last game, Geoff Snider and Mike Kilby got into fights and we need to atone and answer the bell for that.’ Our focus is getting Ws.

“If it turns into a physical game, then we need to really answer that and understand what it takes to be successful in those type of game.”

It’s hard to imagine it being much more physical than the last one.

Just 26 seconds after the opening faceoff in their Jan. 22 set-to at the Saddledome, Riggers heavyweights Geoff Snider and Mike Kilby dropped the mitts with Matt Beers and Chris O’Dougherty, respectively.

At halftime, Roughnecks assistant coach Curt Malawsky had to be restrained from entering an area set aside for the visiting team below the bleachers. The total on-floor tally was 84 penalty minutes.

“That’s all over with but, you know what? At some point, I’m sure the tempers are going to flare in this one,” Malawsky said. “It’s going to be a test for us to see how much we’ve grown.”

After all, there’s a lot more at stake than just physical retribution.

The Roughnecks (6-3) sit atop the West Division standings, while the Stealth (5-5) have been scoring at will in their past two games, showing flashes of the offensive prowess that pushed them to a Champion’s Cup title last spring.

The Riggers handed the Stealth a 13-11 setback in Washington on their banner-raising night at the start of the campaign, and the winner of Sunday’s showdown will claim the regular-season series and hold the tiebreaker.

As Roughnecks coach Dave Pym pointed out, the past punch-ups between the two squads is just a part of the story.

“When somebody walks into our home rink and does what the Stealth did to us, it definitely takes a notch out of that pride,” Pym said. “We’re looking at this game as a real litmus test as to where we stand at this point in the season. I think it’s a very important game for both teams to see where they stand in the West.

“And the fact that they shellacked us the last time we played them is obviously going to provide us with some extra motivation. There were some things that occurred in that game that we take very personally and that agitated us, and we have a lot riding on the game this week.”

wes.gilbertson@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/WesGilbertson


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