A one-up, one-down weekend wasn’t exactly what the Saskatchewan Rush had hoped for but, in the end, they’ll take it and move on.
The Rush ran roughshod over the Vancouver Stealth last Friday night, picking up a 20-10 win as a handful of players hit big numbers on the scoresheet. Mark Matthews (3 goals, 7 assists), Robert Church (4 goals, 5 assists), Ben McIntosh (5 goals), and Marty Dinsdale (4 goals, 4 assists) were amongst those who piled on the points. One night later, though, the offence was quieted in a 16-10 home-turf to the Georgia Swarm. It was a loss that could be chalked up to a lack of lucky bounces, an opposing goalie who was on his game, and some tired legs after a game the night before accompanied by a miserable travel day.
But the Rush, who have a bye this weekend, are still locked into first overall in the NLL standings and guaranteed to host the one-game West Division Final on May 10th against either the Colorado Mammoth or Calgary Roughnecks. The Rush wrap up the regular season at home on Saturday, April 28th when the Roughnecks come to town.
“Can’t complain too much. We’re still 13-4,” said Rush GM/head coach Derek Keenan.
Keenan’s crew obliterated a way overmatched Stealth squad, and the Rush were able to help third-string netminder Adam Shute pick up his first NLL victory. A well-rested Swarm were waiting for the Rush in Saskatoon and the defending league champs sprung out with a strong first half before holding off a comeback bid.
“Too little, too late,” said Mark Matthews after loss. “It was a very frustrating game.”
Saskatchewan’s last home game of the regular season should re-ignite their passion as it’s always a heated affair in the NLL’s Battle of the Prairies. The Rush have won 11 of the past 14 regular-season games against the Roughnecks, and a win next Saturday will give them their second season-series sweep in the past three years.
“I think we’re close to where we want to be,” said Keenan. “We had some uncharacteristic lapses on defence last game, but I think you can chalk that up to fatigue. There’s no major concerns.
“We want to playing well going into the playoffs, so we’ll be firing on all cylinders against Calgary. You don’t want to go into the playoffs not playing well.”