The Saskatchewan Rush are set to continue defending their National Lacrosse League (NLL) title as the team jumps into round two of the playoffs this weekend.
The Rush will head west to face the Calgary Roughnecks Saturday before playing to a massive home crowd at SaskTel Centre a week later.
It’s a best-of-three series with a twist – if the teams are tied after two, a 10 minute mini-game will take place right after the second game to determine the winner.
The home-floor advantage was won by The Rush, who clinched first in the NLL west and earned a berth to round two of the playoffs.
Rush head coach Derek Keenan said the key for his team is maintaining composure.
“Goal runs happen, penalties happen; we have to have that ‘what’s next’ attitude and just moves on from stuff that happens – even good things, you can’t get ahead of yourselves,” he said.
Saskatchewan was 6-3 on the road this season and beat Calgary in all four meetings.
“They’re a team that can go on goal runs; they’re a team that can try to draw you in to some undisciplined stuff and we have to stay away from that,” Keenan said, adding the Rush game strategy doesn’t change on the road.
“We’ll try and play our game, try and play at tempo and control the tempo and see where that puts us…we’ve been pretty consistent for a team that’s put in a couple of new guys into the mix.”
The defending NLL champions, who were in Edmonton prior to moving to Saskatchewan this season, are 52-12 for the last three years.
When asked what he expects from the hometown crowd, the coach pulled no punches.
“I’m sure it’ll be a zoo, no doubt,” Keenan said.
“The evidence is already there that our fans are very capable, and I’m sure it’ll be fantastic.”
The team will put that fan power to good use, collecting donations for Fort McMurray during the May 21 playoff game in Saskatoon.
Anyone who contributes a minimum donation of $5 will receive a limited edition green light stick.