The Edmonton Rush (11-0) won their 11th-straight game, stayed undefeated on the season, and clinched a home-turf playoff date for the first time in team history as they scored six power-play goals and used a seven-goal outburst in the second quarter to blow out the Buffalo Bandits (8-3) by a score of 14-5.
With 11 straight wins, the Rush are just one victory away from tying the NLL record for the longest regular-season winning streak set by the 2007 edition of the Rochester Knighthawks. The win, coming before a crowd of 7,071 at Rexall Place, also gave the Rush their fourth straight win over Buffalo, and first on their home floor against the Bandits since the 2008 season.
"It's very big for the organization," said Rush GM/head coach Derek Keenan of earning the home playoff date.
"It's great for Bruce (owner Bruce Urban) whose stuck with it. We've worked together and it has come a long way. We haven't finished what we want to accomplish but it's definitely a step in the right direction."
Curtis Knight, Zack Greer, and rookie Adrian Sorichetti all notched hat tricks for the Rush, while Cory Conway starred in the role of playmaker in racking up eight points on the night (1+7).
"It's definitely huge. We're 11-0 but we don't want to stop," said Knight, who leads the Rush with 22 goals on the year. "All we're thinking about is getting better every game."
After a see-saw first frame that had Buffalo leading 3-2 after 15 minutes, the Rush exploded for seven goals in the second quarter starting with Mark Matthews' power-play marker. Edmonton took the lead on the Sorchetti's first career goal, and after a quick tally by Chad Culp put Buffalo briefly back in front, the Rush's onslaught began.
Following a goal from Jarrett Davis that put Edmonton up 5-4, Knight reeled off back-to-back goals coming just over one minute apart. Knight's first goal came off a brilliant setup by Robert Church who fed at the top of the crease and Knight twisted a shot behind Bandits goalie Anthony Cosmo. Knight completed his first-half trick and then watched Rush defender Jeff Cornwall put Edmonton up 8-4. Cornwall turned on the jets, blowing past the Bandits in the open floor, and cleanly beat Cosmo on the breakaway. Sorichetti topped off the barrage, adding his second of the night to make it 9-4 at halftime.
"I thought we were a little lethargic and slow in the first. We picked it up in the second and took over with our speed and athleticism," said Keenan.
So much for the showdown of the beasts from East Division against the West's best.
"They're the best team we've played this year, and they were head and shoulders better than us tonight," said Buffalo head coach Troy Cordingley. "We're just lucky that it was a regular-season game and not a playoff game. We were not good and they made us play like that. We play with a lot of emotion and tonight we were emotionless."
Greer notched the lone goal of the third quarter, and added his second of the night just over two minutes into the fourth with a great effort. After a great fake, Greer fired a low shot behind Cosmo as he was falling to the turf. Just 2:25 later, Greer completed the natural hat trick whipping in the Rush's fifth power-play goal of the game. Sorichetti completed his own hat trick later in the fourth.
"I definitely owe it to our defense," said Sorichetti, who was playing in just his second game of the year and filling in for injured fellow rookie Riley Loewen.
"The defense got us the ball back and moved it up quick in transition and everyone did what they were supposed to do. "
Church and Conway had the other goals for the Rush, while goaltender Aaron Bold registered 28 saves to earn his league-leading 10th win.
With an assist on Aaron Wilson's first-quarter goal and his own goal in the fourth, Bandits legend and NLL all-time leading scorer John Tavares went past 1,700 regular-season career points. Steve Priolo, with a shorthanded goal, and a goal from Joe Resetarits coming with an extra attacker, rounded out Buffalo's scoring.
The Bandits will look to bounce back from the loss Sunday when they visit Minnesota. The Rush, who have won 11 straight regular-season road games dating back to last season, trek to Rochester and Toronto next weekend.
Three Stars of the Game as selected by the media:
1) Cory Conway
2) Zack Greer
3) Curtis Knight