The Saskatchewan Rush (4-2) poured in seven goals in the first quarter and used that to propel themselves to an 11-8 victory over the Rochester Knighthawks (3-3) before a crowd of 11,042 at SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon on Friday night.
The win was the Rush’s eighth in nine regular-season meetings against the Knighthawks, and Saskatchewan’s third home-turf victory of the season.
After Joe Walters opened the scoring for Rochester, the Rush went on an eight-goal run including seven in the opening frame. Speedster Jeff Cornwall tied it with a diving effort capitalizing on a rebound to the get the Rush rolling, and his goal was quickly followed by a power-play strike from Mark Matthews as he found the top corner with a hot shot past K-Hawks goalie Matt Vinc.
Just 33 seconds later, the Rush struck again on a Ben McIntosh goal, and just over two minutes after that, McIntosh found the back of the net once more. Curtis Knight then scored and that tally had Vinc headed to the Rochester bench. The Rush kept coming, though, and only 29 seconds later, Zack Greer buried a shot past backup netminder Angus Goodleaf. Vinc went back between the K-Hawks’ pipes but he was beaten again before the first quarter was up as Robert Church mustered a power-play marker.
Saskatchewan’s surge was extended early in the second quarter when captain Chris Corbeil scored his third shorthanded goal of the season. Rochester finally ended the Rush’s run and went on a three-goal momentum swing of their own before a sidearm shot from Matthews made it 9-4 before halftime.
The Rush were held off the scoresheet in the third quarter and Rochester closed the gap to 9-6 but Greer’s second of the game – and team-leading 17th of the season – made it 10-6. Dan Dawson scored back-to-back goals to give him four on the night and put the Knighthawks within two until they were run out of time by the stingy Rush defence.
Corbeil added his second of the game on a bizarre play with only nine seconds left. Rochester had pulled Vinc for an extra-attacker but when Saskatchewan recovered the ball, the K-Hawks goalie was too quick getting back on the floor and his team was called for too many men. Because the goaltender was the culprit on the infraction, it resulted in an automatic goal for the Rush.
Matthews and McIntosh (2 goals, 2 assists) led the Rush with four points apiece. Saskatchewan goalie Aaron Bold finished with 29 saves with eight of those coming in the fourth quarter as Rochester mounted one last comeback try. Vinc was far busier on the night as he wound up with 47 saves.
The Rush are home again next Friday as they face another foe from the East Division when the Buffalo Bandits visit Saskatoon. It’s a doubleheader weekend for the Rush as they follow up the Friday home game with a trip to Calgary on Sunday for a matinee against the Roughnecks.
Dan Dawson, who finished with four goals, led the comeback attempt. Cody Jamieson was also tough down the stretch, finishing the contest with one goal and four assists.
“We never stop fighting. Something we pride ourselves on is never giving up no matter what the adversity is,” said Dawson. “Unfortunately, we just ran out of time tonight.”
Defenseman Sid Smith posted a season-high two points (1+1), while Joe Walters and Joe Resetarits each added a goal. Forward Stephen Keogh cashed in on his 100th career assist early in the game on Walters’ goal, which staked the Knighthawks to a 1-0 lead. Dylan Evans also scooped up eight loose balls and won 14 of 22 faceoffs.
“We’re looking to be 50-50 (on draws), but when Dylan can do that kind of job against (Jeremy) Thompson, who is a great faceoff guy as well, it gave us some momentum. He did a dynamite job back there for us.”
In goal, Matt Vinc made a season-high 47 saves. He was stellar in the second half, as the Knighthawks defense held Saskatchewan to just three goals. He kept the Knighthawks in the game in the first half by making 28 saves, which he followed up with 19 stops over the final two quarters.
The Knighthawks will remain on the road, as they take on the Toronto Rock on Saturday, Feb. 27th at the Air Canada Centre. The game is the second of a season-high four-game road trip.
Three Stars of the Game:
1) Mark Matthews
2) Dan Dawson
3) Kyle Rubisch
Story by SaskRush.com & Knighthawks.com. Photo by Calvin So.