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SHOWTIME: Saskatchewan Rush set to face Calgary at Moose Jaw Events Centre

Rush forward Wengreniuk looking forward to clash with Roughnecks in front of sold-out crowd on Saturday night
The turf is down and the Moose Jaw Events Centre is ready to go for the National Lacrosse League exhibition game between the Saskatchewan Rush and Calgary Roughnecks.

The building is ready, the teams have had their pre-game practices and the time for the most anticipated lacrosse game in Moose Jaw history has come.

In a few short hours time, the Moose Jaw Events Centre will see more than 4,600 fans packed into the facility for the much-anticipated National Lacrosse League showdown between the Saskatchewan Rush and Calgary Roughnecks.

The contest might be an absolute event for Moose Jaw fans, but in the bigger scheme of things it’s a chance for both teams to once again hit the court after training camp and test themselves against live opposition. 

That’s not to say the magnitude of what’s about to go down Saturday night is lost on the guys who will be on the court. 

Not by a long shot.

“I’m very excited for it, it’s going to be pretty special,” said Rush forward Cam Wengreniuk in the lead-up to the contest. “It isn’t often we get a chance to play in front of some of the fans who might not be able to make it up to Saskatoon for games, so this is a chance to give the game a lot of exposure and I’m really looking forward to it.”

Fans looking to get a last-minute ticket will be hard-pressed. Fewer than 80 single seats remained as of 2 p.m. Saturday, and the Events Centre opened around 100 standing-room spots on Saturday night.

Those that did snag a seat will be treated to a spectacle not just surrounding the game, but in the action on the floor itself -- something the Rush plan to do their part and then some to make happen.

“Fans can expect to see a super fast-paced team, we’re certainly going to be looking to push the ball and we’ll be looking to create a lot of opportunities,” Wengreniuk said. “We’re a big strong offence, big strong defence and there will be lots of hard picks, lots of banging bodies and with the environment, we’ll definitely be looking to feed off the fans. The louder the fans get, the more into the game we get and that’s something we’re looking forward to.”

Those that follow the team closely will see a few differences from last time the Rush were on the floor in Saskatchewan. The new Bison logo and branding is the most obvious, as is their new captain in veteran Ryan Keenan. But the team has also seen a handful of personnel changes since missing the playoffs by a single win last season and will also be looking to rebound after a 13-10 loss to the Toronto Rock in their pre-season opener on Nov. 11 in Toronto.

“We had some changes we had to make after our last game and this is kind of a chance to bridge that and we want to make sure we’ve taken a step forward,” Wengreniuk said. “There’s a lot of stuff that we’ve been working on implementing and going through in practice, and this will be the first opportunity to put all the new systems in place against a different team. It’ll be a fresh look and a chance to learn and continue to get better.”

One thing that’s for certain is the Rush have no intentions of treating tonight’s match-up as just an exhibition game.

We’re coming out to win this game,” Wengreniuk said matter-of-factly. “It’s an opportunity to come out and prove ourselves since I think a lot of teams are going to underestimate us just because of how young we are. It’s a chance to come out and prove to Calgary what we’re capable of, get out and battle and put up a lot on them and continue to build to our regular season.”

Door open at 5:30 p.m. and fans are encouraged to arrive early for the opening face-off at 7 p.m.

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