If only games were 30 minutes long.
If that would be the case, the Saskatchewan Rush would have an additional win on the record and their latest victory wouldn’t have been such a nail-biter. But that’s just not the way things roll. Yet the Rush still stand first in the NLL’s West Division though their last two games – one loss and one win in overtime – have been extra emotionally exhausting.
Following their heart-breaking OT setback against the Buffalo Bandits in which they let some commanding leads dissipate, the Rush had another dominating first-half performance against the Calgary Roughnecks this past weekend only to see that game go to extra time after significant leads slipped away. The Rush did manage to pull out the win in Calgary, thanks to Ben McIntosh’s brilliant individual effort in overtime, but the second-half dramatics are giving everyone fits.
“Lacrosse is a funny game because it’s such a game of momentum,” said McIntosh after the victory which moved the Rush to 5-1 on the season as they prepare for this weekend’s doubleheader against the Colorado Mammoth and Vancouver Stealth.
“We had things in control in the first half and then the script got flipped on us in the second. We got lucky and got the win so we’re happy about that. The good thing is every guy on this team is such a team-first guy and everyone on the bench kept their heads. We got it back and things bounced our way in the end.”
The Rush’s entire game was better against Calgary than it was when Buffalo paid a visit. Still, the second half saw the Roughnecks complete a furious comeback that sent frightening flashbacks throughout Rush Nation. At least this time, the Rush were able to pocket the win thanks to the OT winner. With the matchups against the Mammoth and Stealth fast-approaching, the Rush will need to find an answer to their second-half issues.
“One thing I’ve seen while reviewing the games is that while we’re a very good transition team, at times we were getting too involved and it turned into a run-and-gun game,” said Rush GM/head coach Derek Keenan. “I think we ran out of gas a bit because we let Calgary dictate the tempo of the game.
“We have to make good decisions in transition. We can take advantage of good opportunities but not just OK opportunities because we end up having short possessions and then get run down on defence.
“We didn’t get our offence on the floor enough in the third quarter. Our defence got tired and it was tough to get back in the game because we didn’t have any flow going. But we’ll take the win and move on.”
The Rush will have their hands full with their upcoming foes. Despite losing two of their best defencemen to injury prior to the start of the season, Colorado looks to be a formidable contender in the West, although the Rush have won 10 of the last 12 regular-season encounters, including the recent road win in Denver in mid-January, along with two playoff games against the Mammoth. And for whatever reason, Vancouver has given Saskatchewan fits over the past two seasons, and the Stealth have a much better lineup than their current 1-6 indicates.
“Colorado is always a tough place to play and Vancouver is always a battle,” said Rush transition Adrian Sorichetti, who has seven goals on just 11 shots so far this season.
“We all have to be accountable in these games. Maybe we’ve been leaning on another guy too much. We all have to contribute. Our first halves have been great and in the second we have to keep the momentum going and not let up on the gas.”