Fan festivities ramp up ahead of Rush, Roughnecks series final

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May 20, 2016 - 8:32am Updated: May 20, 2016 - 2:57pm

There’s a rush of excitement in Saskatoon for those staying in the city this May long weekend.

The National Lacrosse League western conference final wraps at SaskTel Centre Saturday night, and a number of events are slated to tee up the big game.

On Friday, Rush Hour took over downtown Saskatoon on 21st Street between 3rd and 4th Avenues with food trucks and other fan festivities.

It’s all in advance of the Rush hosting Calgary in game two of the NLL western conference final.

The best-of-three series has a twist: if the teams tie after game two, a 10-minute mini game will take place right after to determine the winner.

Saskatchewan won the opener 16-10 last Saturday in Calgary.

Rush defender Nic Bilic, who scored one of the Saskatchewan goals last weekend, knows Calgary Roughnecks leading scorer Curtis Dixon – and the rest of the Alberta roster – is capable of pushing back this weekend.

“They’ve got a young and big offense so they set big picks and you’ve got to contain that Curtis Dixon guy, you know, he’s really good,” Bilic said.

Bilic said the team has to maintain focus and a clear head in front of the home crowd of around 15,000 people.

“Use the crowd to our advantage and not let our emotions get the best of us. We’re just going to have to weather the storm and play our system and we should be fine,” he said.

Bilic said the defending NLL championship Rush team wants this year's title just as much as it did last year.

“We all still have that drive and it’s a good thing to have, especially after coming off a championship year; still being as hungry as we are it’s great to see,” he said.

The game starts at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at SaskTel Centre, but fans wanting to arrive early will have plenty to do beforehand.

When doors open at 5:30 p.m., people can buy special light sticks for Fort McMurray at $5 a piece; no electronic payments will be accepted for these donations.

A Red Carpet will be rolled out in the concourse from 5:30-7:30 p.m. for fans to grab professional shots from the photo booth.  

Shortly before 6 p.m., a mini lacrosse game will take place showing local minor league talent from the Saskatchewan SWAT program and the Lloydminster Border Brutes.

Additionally, the Johner Boys are billed to perform live during both the Pre-Game and Half-Time Shows, playing three songs during each set.

With a full-capacity crowd anticipated Saturday, SaskTel Centre has this advice for fans:

  • Come early: Doors & Original 16 Founders’ Lounge at open at 5:30pm. Game time is 7:30pm
  • Carpool: Arrive with family or friends to reduce traffic congestion.
  • Follow the directions of parking attendants & police on-site: Faster and safer exit from the parking lots.
  • Stay late: Post-game there will be an autograph session, Original 16 Founders’ Lounge is open with live entertainment. Remaining in the venue even for just 15 minutes will greatly reduce the traffic congestion.
Rush fans enjoy a rally in downtown Saskatoon Friday ahead of the team's western conference final. Rush fans enjoy a rally in downtown Saskatoon Friday ahead of the team's western conference final. Rush fans enjoy a rally in downtown Saskatoon Friday ahead of the team's western conference final. Buses in Saskatoon are showing support for the home team ahead of Saturday's NLL western conference final. Saskatchewan's Zack Greer keeps his eyes on the prize during the series opener against host Calgary Roughnecks on May 15, 2016. The Rush won 16-10.
Daniella Ponticelli/ CKOM News
Rush fans enjoy a rally in downtown Saskatoon Friday ahead of the team's western conference final.
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