For the first time in franchise history, the Edmonton Rush are off to a 2-0 start as they clobbered the Colorado Mammoth 17-6 on "GSP Night" featuring MMA legend Georges St. Pierre during their home opener on Crystal Glass Field at Rexall Place.
Mark Matthews, the NLL's Rookie of the Year in 2013, paced the Rush attack as he tied the team record he shares with nine points in the game including five goals - three of which came on the power play. Fellow Rush sniper Zack Greer also fired in five goals, while Jarrett Davis counted three goals and five assists for an eight-point night. At the other end, the Rush got a terrific first-quarter showing from goalie Aaron Bold and he mustered a 40-save effort.
"We had a lot of guys get a lot of points and ultimately that's what you want. It's tough to stop from a defensive standpoint when you've got a lot of guys scoring," said Greer, who had a hat trick in Edmonton's season-opener - a 13-10 win at Colorado back on Dec. 28.
Back-to-back games with that kind of firepower drew high praise for Greer from his coach.
"Zack again was the most dynamic player on the floor," offered Rush GM/Head Coach Derek Keenan. "When he catches the ball and has some speed behind him, he is a very dangerous player."
Saturday night's win also gave the Rush a win in their home-opener for the first time since beating Buffalo 11-7 back in 2010. The victory, coming before a crowd of 7,950, pushed the Rush to 4-5 in the franchise's home-openers and gave Edmonton a huge boost in momentum as they try to end their home-turf struggles over recent season including last year's dismal 2-6 mark.
"It was a good way to start," said Greer. "We've struggled in our own building in the past. We're just focused on one goal and that's to win the game. There can be a lot of distractions playing at home. You're worrying about putting on a good performance and you wind up squeezing the stick a little. We just have one focus for each game and we have to go out and do that."
While the Rush are unbeaten after two outings, the lopsided loss dropped the Mammoth to 1-3.
The Rush offense rolled in the opening quarter as Davis scored his first of the night just 19 seconds into the game. Greer counted his first three of the night all in the opening quarter including a shorthanded tally on the heels of Matthews' first power-play goal of the game. Greer's shorthanded marker meant the hook for rookie goaltender Dillon Ward, who got yanked after giving up four goals on five shots.
Matthews, who didn't score in the season-opener but notched four assists, counted his second power-play tally of the quarter, and then Greer racked up his hat trick goal, following his own rebound and diving through the crease as he tucked the ball between the legs of goaltender Tye Belanger.
Drew Westervelt finally beat Bold but not before the Edmonton netminder had managed a pair of brilliant stops on Joel Dalgarno and Sean Pollock during Mammoth power plays.
The second quarter opened with the Rush on another tear as goals by Curtis Knight and Davis pushed the Rush to an 8-1 cushion, and brought the hook out for Belanger with Ward heading back into the Colorado net.
Matthews connected again on the power-play goal, giving him a first-half hat trick, and the Rush cruised to a 9-2 lead at halftime. Any thought of big swing in momentum towards the Mammoth had pretty much disappeared long before the break.
"We couldn't get anything going," said Colorado's Dan Ball, who engaged in a wild fight with Edmonton's Nic Bilic at midfield late in the third quarter. The two were teammates together last season in Minnesota.
"Boldy (Aaron Bold) was good and we got lots of shots at him. We hung our goalies out to dry and they capitalized on their chances."
Rush rookie Riley Loewen added to the Mammoth's woes scoring on a beautiful spin move at the top of the crease in the third quarter. Matthews had a goal waved off for crease violation - and also denied by the challenge flag - but the 2013 NLL Rookie of the Year wouldn't be denied his fourth goal of the game on Edmonton's very next possession.
The former Denver University star counted his fifth of the night and third power-play tally, and Greer notched his fifth of the game with powerful shot that zipped by Belanger with 2.6 seconds left in the third.
Loewen, with his second, Davis's hat trick goal, and Cory Conway added fourth-quarter goals for the Rush. Matthews drew an assist on Conway's goal to get to his ninth point of the game - a team record he shares with Corey Small and Shawn Williams.
Westervelt, with a hat trick, two from Adam Jones, and a single from Sean Pollock accounted for the Colorado goals.
The Rush swept the game's three stars with goalie Aaron Bold, who came up big during the Mammoth's early power plays, named first star. Matthews took second star honors and Greer was named third star.
"I thought we played really well and came out with a lot of energy," noted Keenan. "Bold was excellent and you need to have that every night because the skill level in this league is so high. Tonight our skill was better than theirs.
"We executed well and had very few letdowns. I'm really happy with the effort."
The Rush have won seven of the last 12 meetings with their West Division rival and Edmonton is now 9-14 all-time against Colorado.
Rush host the Calgary Roughnecks on Friday, Jan. 17, while Colorado is at Vancouver on Jan. 17 and then back home to play Buffalo on Saturday, Jan. 18.
Three Stars of the Game as selected by the media:
1) Aaron Bold
2) Mark Matthews
3) Zack Greer