After suffering their first loss in an otherwise perfect season on Friday night in Colorado, the Edmonton Rush (15-1) bounced back with a 15-11 road win over their rival Calgary Roughnecks (10-6) in the 'Battle of Alberta' before a crowd of 15,167 fans at Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday night.
With their 15th win of the year, the Rush has set a new NLL record for regular season wins. Despite the new 18-game schedule, Edmonton needed only 16 games to do it.
“It’s been a great season so far, but it’s far from over. We have Calgary again next weekend, and we have to be ready to go as they will be hungry,” said Rush head coach Derek Keenan.
The Roughnecks, who were looking for their fifth-straight win, had lost to the Rush in the two previous meetings so far this season having been outscored 30-15. Calgary hung tight in this one, but the result was much of the same.
“We did play well, but there were other times we didn’t, I think when you’re playing in tight games, your mistakes get magnified,” said Roughnecks head coach Curt Malawsky. “Sometimes we threw the ball away and when we made those mistakes it ends up in the back of your net.”
Curtis Knight of the Rush had five goals in the game and head coach Derek Keenan praised his player on his performance tonight.
“Knight is one of those guys that can do it all," Keenan said. "The guys love him in the dressing room and he’s just a little guy but he’s willing to pay the price. He went to the middle tonight, made great shots and he was rewarded for it.”
The first quarter was a back-and-forth affair where both teams got off to a quick start. Robert Church got it started for Edmonton, scoring 28 seconds into the game but Calgary answered right back 48 seconds later when Scott Ranger fired one past goaltender Aaron Bold. The rest of the frame, Edmonton would score and Calgary would answer back, going goal for goal until the first buzzer.
Just over a minute into the second quarter, Ranger got his second of the match tying the game at four a piece, but Calgary was shut down after that. The Rush went on a four-goal-run from four different goal scorers extending their lead to four goals. It wasn’t until there was just under three minutes left in the second quarter that the Riggers were able to score one more when Shawn Evans made a nice move to beat the tendy short side. Curtis Knight added one more for the Rush before the buzzer, making it 9-5 Edmonton at the half.
You couldn’t tell the Rush had been in Colorado the night before, as they just kept there foot on the pedal all first half.
“We played last night, got on the plane and came to Calgary, but it’s not hard to get up for games against these guys. They’re a great club and it always makes for a great game,” said Keenan.
Roughnecks head coach Curt Malawsky must have said something to get his team going at half as the 'Necks came out in the third quarter scoring three straight goals. Jeff Shattler scored all three for a natural hat-trick to bring the Riggers back within one.
“Shattler started it off, he’s a competitor and the guys just follow off that. Sometimes it only takes one guy to step up and he was the guy to do that,” said Malawsky.
The Shattler show continued as he potted his fourth of the quarter to give the 15,000+ fans at the 'Dome, their largest crowd since 2008, something to cheer about. The score after three saw the Rush with a slim lead 11-9 and outshooting Calgary 37-30.
The first goal of the fourth quarter wasn’t seen until seven minutes into the frame when Dane Dobbie got his second of the game. Curtis ‘Superman’ Dickson joined in on the scoring as he tied the game 57 seconds later. That’s all the Necks’ could get though as the Rush went on another four goal run, including an empty netter, handing the 'Necks their first loss in four games. Final score of this one, Rush winning it 15-11, and outshooting the Riggers 46-41.
“We were right there, it was 11-11 and then Mitch Bannister made a good play and their guy was able to get on top of it and that was a big goal making it 12-11 and then we just couldn’t get any from there.” said Malawsky. “We battled back and I thought we could hang with them. It's good progress for our guys. But we learned you've got to play 60 minutes. You can’t play 40 minutes in the NLL. You will not win."
“We can definitely compete with these guys," said Roughnecks forward Jeff Shattler. "It almost hurts more when you come back from a deficit like that and then they get four fast goals on us in the last couple of minutes of the game. It really brings down the morale but puts a little hunger in your mouth for next week. We've got to play well against these guys, if we don't, the same outcome will happen."
The ‘Battle of Alberta’ will go once again in Edmonton on Saturday with that game starting at 9 p.m. ET.
Three Stars of the Game as selected by the media:
1) Jeff Shattler
2) Curtis Knight
3) Dane Dobbie