Four years ago, Adam Shute must have felt he was on the cusp of achieving his dream of playing professionally. Shute was a second round draft pick of the Saskatchewan Rush after they took the Calgary goaltender 13th overall. But after failing to land a roster spot and instead spending time on practice rosters, Friday night saw the 27-year-old make his first career National Lacrosse League start.
Shute allowed a goal 25 seconds in to the Vancouver Stealth, but after that — and helped by a couple of Stealth goals nullified by crease violations — he settled down, stopping 20 of 22 first half shots en route to a 33-save performance in his team’s 20-10 victory at the Langley Events Centre. The win improved Saskatchewan to 13-3 while the Stealth are 2-14.
“A couple of saves in a row there helped me settle down,” Shute admitted.Prior to his start, Shute had a grand total of 4:39 of playing time on his resume, etting into one game last season with the Georgia Swarm. Shute learned he was being activated off the practice roster last week but didn’t know he was starting until game day on Friday. “It was nerves right off the bat and after practice this morning, it turned more to excitement,” he admitted. Shute was happy to make his first career start back with the team which drafted him.
It also helps that they are one of the league’s perennial powers. “It is a good way to ease into it behind arguably the best defence in the league,” he said. “I thought we were a little on our heels on defence,” said Rush coach Derek Keenan, who admitted they were playing under the unusual circumstances of knowing their final three games had no bearing on the final standings with first place in both the West Division and NLL already wrapped up.
After the Stealth opened the scoring, Saskatchewan took over with a 9-0 run spanning the first and second quarter while Vancouver went scoreless for 28:58. Down 9-2 at the half, the Stealth pulled within five goals in the third quarter before the Rush re-established a double-digit lead.
With the loss, the Stealth are in danger of having the franchise’s worst season of all time as they need to win both games to match their previous low of four victories. Vancouver is also 0-8 on their home floor and this was their second double-digit loss of the season at the LEC.
“No one on our team is going to make excuses, It is as simple as at times we have been outworked, at times you can say we don’t get the bounces,” said Andrew Suitor. “And some games, we just weren’t good enough. “This team works hard but a lot of time hard work doesn’t get you the win. You have to outsmart teams,” he added.
don’t finger point “You take it on the chin, you take it like a man and I think we have taken quite a few on the chin this year.”
“The difference in the game tonight is this team is really well versed in what they do and if you make a mistake they are going to put it in the back of the net,” summarized Stealth coach Jamie
The Rush scored on their first five power-plays and finished the night 5-for-7 while the Stealth scored on their lone power-play chance. The Rush had seven players with three points or more, led by three goals and seven assists from Mark Matthews, five goals and two assists from Ben McIntosh and four goals apiece from Robert Church and Matthew Dinsdale. Church also had five helpers while Dinsdale had four.And Ryan Keenan (two goals, five assists) and Curtis Knight (three assists) rounded out the balanced scoring attack.
Rhys Duch led the Stealth with his first three-goal game of the season, while Suitor and Pat Saunders each had multi-goal games. Suitor also had an assist, which was his 100th career NLL point.
Brandon Goodwin. Logan Schuss and Tony Malcom had the other goals while Brandon Clelland had three helpers.
And while the game had no bearing on either team’s place in the standings, Shute just wanted to make sure he helped keep the Rush in contention for the league’s lowest goals against.
Saskatchewan has allowed 170 goals, four less than the Colorado Mammoth. Both teams have two games remaining.
Jerseys auctioned off
One bright spot on the night for Vancouver was the fact $14,000 was raised as the Stealth auctioned off their specially-designed jerseys. The money will go to the victims and their families of last week’s tragic bus crash involving the Humboldt Broncos hockey team.