The San Diego Seals (9-6) will clinch a home game in the first round of the NLL playoffs if they defeat the visiting Saskatchewan Rush (8-6) on Friday. And if San Diego’s win is followed by a Rush loss to the Philadelphia Wings on Saturday, the Seals will clinch the top speed in the West Division.
While Saskatchewan has already clinched a playoff berth, forward Mark Matthews & Co. will need to pick up a win against San Diego (among other fortunate occurrences) to lay claim to a home affair in the first round. Matthews, the Rush’s leader in points (80) and assists (50), will need to lead the charge if Saskatchewan is going to leave Pechanga Arena in San Diego with the victory.
San Diego goalie Frank Scigliano has been a force in net, keeping offensive superstars like Matthews off the score sheet all season long. He’s allowed just 11.93 goals per game, owns a .781 save percentage and has recorded 598 saves through 15 games with the Seals.
Making Scigliano’s job easier, Seals defenders Cam Holding and Tor Reinholdt lead the team with 19 and 18 forced turnovers, respectively. Holding also leads the team in loose balls with 133, which is 38 more than any other San Diego defender.
Matthews, of course, won’t be all by his lonesome on the offensive end, as he’ll lean on the Rush’s other top scorers, Ben McIntosh and Jeff Shattler, to break down Scigliano and the Seals. McIntosh shares the team lead in goals with Matthews, and Shattler is just a goal behind the duo with 29 and has logged 28 assists on the season.
Opposite of the Rush’s top offensive weapons stands a superstar trio on the Seals in older veterans Dan Dawson and Garrett Billings and first-year forward Austin Staats. Dawson (76) and Billings (73) lead the team in points scored through 15 games, combining for 108 assists and 41 goals. Staats, who was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NLL Entry Draft, leads all San Diego players with 34 goals on the year.
Saskatchewan defender Kyle Rubisch, a 30-year-old nine-year NLL veteran, will make things difficult for the Seals’ offense. His 34 forced turnovers leads the NLL. Also, the Rush’s Jeremy Thompson has scooped up an NLL-high 182 loose balls.
Faceoff between the Rush and the Seals is scheduled for 10:30 p.m. ET. The game will be broadcasted live on Síntesis TV and B/R Live.