By Scott Zerr | NLL.com Staff Writer
Photo Credit GetMyPhoto.ca
The Rush forward peeled away from a pair of Mammoth defenders, worked himself into open space, and then fired a rocket behind Colorado goalie Dillon Ward that sent a sold-out crowd of 15,037 at SaskTel Centre into a frenzy.
The clutch victory kept the Rush (7-3) in first place in the NLL’s West Division, moving them 1½ games ahead of Colorado (6-5) with one game in-hand.
“Honestly, it was a bit of a broken play,” said McIntosh. “I caught the ball and we already had guys running to the bench. It was late in the shot clock and I just tried get one on net. It was a lucky shot but it’s good to get a break like that.”
It was Saskatchewan’s second straight home-turf overtime victory following up on their 12-11 win over Calgary two weeks ago. The Rush also notched their third consecutive one-goal victory as they had beaten the Mammoth 8-7 three weeks ago.
Colorado opened up the game in dominating fashion, jumping out to a 3-0 lead including a shorthanded goal by Chris Wardle. But the Rush rebounded on the same man-advantage opportunity as Robert Church was left alone in front of the Colorado net to complete the feed from Dan Taylor for his league-leading 14th power-play goal of the season. Wardle tallied again to register a first-quarter hat trick as he went hard to the net and beat Saskatchewan goalie Aaron Bold. Again, though, the Rush responded and scored three straight goals with Brett Mydske’s first of the season, coming with just 10 seconds to go in the opening frame, giving the home side their first lead of the night.
The Mammoth tied things up at 5-5 when Zack Greer, the all-time leading goal-scorer in Rush history, buried a shot against his former club. Saskatchewan got their offence firing again, posting its second three-goal run of the game. Marty Dinsdale put the Rush up 6-5 with a shot off a screen and then transition John Lafontaine finished a fast-break chance as he put away a pass from Jeff Cornwall. McIntosh then deposited his second of the night away as he sped into open area and lasered a shot to the top corner. Eli McLaughlin got one back for Colorado but the Mammoth were denied a chance to close the gap to one as Brent Adams’ goal was waved off after a coach’s challenge for a crease violation, leaving the Rush ahead 8-6 at halftime.
Colorado did get the lead down to one when Callum Crawford utilized a crafty low-high shot to beat Bold, but McIntosh registered his hat-trick tally on a Saskatchewan power play as he perfectly timed a quick-stick effort at the edge of the crease on a feed from Taylor. The Mammoth eked closer with three seconds left in the third quarter and with an extra attacker when Stephen Keogh’s long-range shot eluded Bold to make it 9-8.
The fourth quarter was dominated by one player from each team. Rush leading scorer Mark Matthews fired a hard shot that Ward couldn’t handle to put his team ahead 10-8 on the power play, but Wardle continued to hold the hot hand for the Mammoth as he tallied twice just 34 seconds apart giving him five goals on the night and bringing Colorado level 10-10. Matthews answered back for the Rush and counted his hat-trick marker as he burst free from a defender and beat the goaltender with a low shot. Keogh’s second of the night, coming with less than four minutes to play, was the goal that sent the teams to overtime.
Matthews (3 goals, 4 assists) and Crawford (1 goal, 6 assists) paced their respective teams with seven-point efforts.
Bold finished with 36 saves, including five in overtime, and took over the lead in wins amongst NLL goalies at seven. Ward, who also had six wins entering the game, totaled 52 stops – the second game in a row against Saskatchewan that he racked up 50-plus saves.
The Rush head into a bye week before returning with a doubleheader weekend beginning at home on March 24th against the Calgary Roughnecks and then the following night in Denver against the Mammoth. Meanwhile, Colorado completes a two-game weekend of their own tomorrow evening against the Stealth in Vancouver.