Overtime has not been kind to the Edmonton Rush (8-4) this season, but its fortunes changed by capturing a 15-14 OT victory at home against the Vancouver Stealth (4-8) on Friday night. Vancouver held an 8-3 lead at one point in the third quarter, but the Rush went on a 9-1 run in the second half to tie the game and take the lead. Vancouver had some late heroics that pushed the game into an extra frame, but Zack Greer sealed the deal for the Rush to keep their West Division lead.
Friday night’s game is the first of a home and home series this weekend. These two teams will play again tomorrow night in Langley at 10 p.m. ET on TSN 1 and 3 in Canada and on WatchESPN in the United States.
“Not pretty, but we’ll certainly take it,” said the overtime hero, Zack Greer. “Big win, in this league, is important, and we gotta learn how to win those though games. Obviously not a great first half, three goals offensively, a few breakdown on the defensive end, and we’re going to have to be better.”
“But give credit to that other team, there’s no easy games in this league. That’s a great team, and we didn’t come ready to work and they did.”
It didn’t take long for Logan Schuss to make an impact for his new team, as he scored on his first shot with the Stealth to give them a 1-0 lead in the first quarter. The Rush responded by hitting the post three times. Joel McCready and Corey Small scored to give Vancouver three goals, while Mark Matthews scored Edmonton’s lone goal in the first.
Schuss was dealt to the Stealth during this week’s trade deadline, a deal that sent Johnny Powless to the Minnesota Swarm.
The Stealth made good use of their opportunities in the second. Digby, Salt, and Small added goals for Vancouver, while McCready scored two, giving him a first half hat-trick. Edmonton got goals from Davis and Greer, but struggled to defeat their true enemy, the post, which they hit five more times in the second. Eric Penney, making his first career NLL start, only allowed three goals out of the 30 shots he faced in the first half.
Edmonton found their rhythm in the third. After Tyler Digby scored to give the Stealth an 8-3 lead, the Rush went on a 7-2 run to tie the game at ten going into the fourth quarter thanks to goals from Matthews (2), Davis (2), Greer, Church, and Rubisch, who scored his first of the year after forcing a turnover out of Logan Schuss in the offensive zone.
“They got on a pretty good run,” said Stealth head coach Dan Perreault. “They hit a couple corners on their shots, they’re great shots. You know, the ball just started going in for them. Left a bit of a gap, on a couple of them and they got a bunch of great shooters. Overall, it was a great game going into overtime, but the third quarter got away on us a little bit. I thought we had a really good start so basically, you know, we had a great 50 minutes. Unfortunately, 10 minutes, they got on a bit of a run and we didn’t stop them.
The Rush carried its momentum into the fourth when they took their first lead of the game on a transition goal from John Lintz, his first of the season and first since 2011. Sorichetti and McIntosh built them a bigger lead, but the Stealth weren’t finished. Back to back beautiful goals from Small and Duch tied the game back up at 13-13.
Things looked up for the Rush when they took a 14-13 lead on a Robert Church goal with 53 seconds left. But Corey Small would respond for Vancouver, scoring with just seven seconds remaining to take the Rush into overtime. Edmonton has played two previous overtime games at Rexall Place this season, neither which ended with the result they wanted.
Friday night was different as Zack Greer scored his fourth of the game to give the Rush the victory. Greer finished with six points (4+2), second best to Ben McIntosh’s seven points (1+7).
Edmonton’s Head Coach and GM, Derek Keenan, didn’t think tonight game was a good showing for his club, and knows they have to be better if they are to come away with two wins this weekend.
“I don’t want our guys thinking that way, that we played great, and we hit a bunch of posts, ’cause we didn’t,” said Keenan. “I just didn’t think we competed hard enough for sixty minutes. Even when we got the lead, 13-10, we kind of stopped playing. We gave up a really bad transition goal, and then we gave up a couple goals that were just clean defensive breakdowns. We’ve got to be better for sixty minutes.”
When asked if there was a danger in defeating the three-time defending champions, the Rochester Knighthawks, 16-3, Keenan immediately answered, “Probably, yeah.”
On the other side, Dan Perreault was more pleased with his team’s play:
“Overall, I thought the boys put in a real good effort,” he said.
Logan Schuss led the way for Vancouver with seven points (1+6) in his debut with the Stealth. Eric Penney, another new face, ended the night with a .722 save percentage, stopping 39 of the 54 shots he faced.
“For Eric, it was a great first game from him, I’m happy for him,” said Perreault. “And with Logan, he’s a good player…we’re aware what Logan can do so certainly I was happy with their performances.”
“[Schuss] does create space because he has a very good outside shot,” said Perreault. “He sees the floor well, and he dishes well. He really is the type of player that’s a dangerous shooter, but he also makes everyone else on the floor better.”
Schuss was nervous coming into tonight’s game, but was happy to be able to contribute and hopes to continue to build chemistry with his new teammates.
“I had a little bit of the jitters tonight coming into this game. I didn’t want to do too much to start, so I was just happy to get that first one off my back to start, and everything just starts coming to you after that, so I thinking we started clicking throughout the game and I’m going to try to use that roll that we got in the fourth quarter going.”
Being from Ladner, B.C., Schuss is excited to play in front of his hometown crowd on Saturday night.
“I’m pretty jacked up, there’s a lot of friends and family who talked to me saying they’re coming out, and hopefully we can pack the LEC and get a good crowd out there.”
Friday night also marked the occasion where Mark Matthews would tie the franchise record for single-season scoring with 78 points (36+42), a record which he set last season. He now has six games left to grow that number as he makes his bid to be the NLL MVP.
With a win tomorrow night the Rush can secure a playoff spot, but to Zack Greer, much bigger goals lay ahead.
“It’s the first step in a long process. Our ultimate goal here is a Champion’s Cup at the end of the year. It’s the first step in the right direction, but it doesn’t mean a whole lot other than that.”
Three Stars of the Game as selected by the media:
1) Zack Greer
2) Logan Schuss
3) Ben McIntosh
By Mike Wilson (@RushBeat) for NLL.com. Photo by Dale MacMillan.