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Rush Offense Comes Alive Against the Warriors

Frustrated by a lack of production on offense, the Saskatchewan Rush simply said enough is enough.

The Rush (7-3) hit double-digits in goals for the first time this season at home with Ryan Keenan netting four goals and Mark Matthews totaling nine points as the Rush thumped the Vancouver Warriors 17-7 on Saturday night. The win was the Rush’s ninth straight in regular-season play against Vancouver, but more importantly, gave the Rush a lift after they had lost three of four home games in the early stages of this season. They certainly sent their fans home happy, while the Warriors (4-9) went home in despair.

“We’ve been battling to put together 60 minutes this season but I thought we did a really good job of that tonight,” said Rush forward Ben McIntosh, who registered six points (3 goals, 3 assists). “This is really good for our momentum.”

The Rush offense which has struggled particularly at home this season, opened up with a barrage and netted six goals in the opening quarter from six different shooters. After goals from Marty Dinsdale and Jeff Shattler, rookie Austin Murphy picked up his first on the Rush’s home turf as he took a pass from Matthews and slipped a low shot past Warriors goalie Eric Penney.

McIntosh made it 4-1 and just over a minute later, Rush transition Mike Messenger summed up his team’s first-quarter effort. Messenger scooped up the ball, rumbled down the turf and used his solid frame to bowl over Vancouver’s Logan Schuss who was trying to defend. Messenger bounced off the collision and whipped a shot behind Penney. Shattler collected his fourth assist of the opening quarter when shook off a hit in the corner to set up Keenan, who then fired a rocket to the top corner to make it 6-1.

Ben McIntosh diving dunk shot from behind the net was the lone goal for the Rush during the second quarter, but their offense was re-ignited in the third, launching with back-to-back tallies from Robert Church. The second Church goal was a shorthanded marker as he got enough space from three Vancouver defenders and sent a long-range laser into the net with just one second left on the shot clock. The Rush reached double-digits for the first time at home this season when captain Chris Corbeil answered a Warriors goal just nine seconds later to make it 10-4.

Matthews got in on the scoring as he flicked in a shot at the top of the crease, and then the former league MVP slickly added to the offensive onslaught. Matthews used his long reach to disrupt a Warriors transition with the ball rolling to Keenan, who worked a give-and-go with Matthews and then gunned home the return pass.

The beleaguered Rush offense kept charging in the final frame.

Matthews added his second when he took a transition pass from Thompson and rocketed a shot short side to make it 13-6. Keenan and McIntosh followed with their hat-trick tallies, and Shattler scored on a breakaway after stepping out of the penalty box. Keenan rounded out the potent shooting display, getting his fourth of the night as he peeled out of the corner and zipped a shot short side past Warriors backup Nolan Clayton.

Logan Schuss, with three, Lyndon Bunio with a pair and singles from Riley Loewen and Jordan McBride accounted for the Warriors’ scoring.

Evan Kirk finished with 40 saves in the Rush net, while Penney and Clayton teamed up for 38 in the Vancouver crease.

The Rush put their perfect 5-0 road record to the test on Friday, March 13th when they pay a visit on the Calgary Roughnecks in the NLL’s Battle of the Prairies. The Warriors are also in action next Friday when they host the San Diego Seals.