The Saskatchewan Rush (3-0) continued as one of the only two undefeated teams in the NLL
when it bested the defending champion Georgia Swarm (1-3) at Infinite Energy Arena by a
score of 13-9.
The game started as a defensive battle early, uncharacteristic for the two teams who had many
high-scoring games back in the 2017 season. But Saskatchewan used a four-goal run in the
third quarter to bury the lead and prevent Georgia from getting its second win of the season.
“Five-on- five game, we were even with Saskatchewan,” Swarm head coach Ed Comeau said.
“We got crushed on the transition game. We scored a couple late ones that made it look better
than what it was, but we gave up six goals in the third quarter and four of them were transition.
That was the difference. We talked about it; it wasn’t anything we didn’t expect from them. We
knew they were going to run and create those opportunities. We’ve seen them do it in their first
two games. That really was the difference. We have to address how we take care of that and
how we turn it around.”
It was a frantic 15 minutes in the first quarter. Both teams made plenty of shots, but Evan Kirk
and Mike Poulin were dominant. The only goal of the quarter came courtesy of Robert Church
off a quick pass from Ryan Keenan.
“When you look at our two teams’ offenses, you don’t expect that low-scoring of a game for
most of the game, until partway through the third when we started to put a few more in,” Rush
head coach Derek Keenan said. “It’s a boost. We know how dangerous their offense is. Look at
the Finals last year. They put up big numbers on us both games. We needed to be a lot better
defensively, and we were.”
“I just think not thinking, to be quite honest,” Kirk said about what was working for him during
that quarter. “They were moving the ball, swinging the ball, getting good shots. I really like to get
into the game and not have anything to think about. They’re a great team, came out hot, and I
think we just stuck to our principles and did the right things.
Jeff Shattler started things off in the second quarter before Georgia got on the board courtesy
of Shayne Jackson. Penalties would start taking their toll against Georgia, however. The Rush
found itself man-up three times in the second quarter and cashed in on two, but not before
Jackson scored the first shorthand goal of the season for the Swarm. Jesse King had the final
say of the night, and both teams headed for the locker room with the Rush still with the lead, 5-
Things unraveled for Georgia in the third quarter. Jeremy Thompson scored in transition to
open the second half before Jackson got his hat trick. After both teams scored again, the Rush
still up 7-5, Saskatchewan went on a four-goal run started by Shattler and his hat trick.
Punctuating the run was Jeff Cornwall with a shorthand goal for the Rush, putting them up 11-5
at the end of the third quarter. The Rush had outscored the Swarm 6-2 in those 15 minutes.
The Rush slowed things down in the fourth with its six-goal lead. Lyle Thompson scored first in
the quarter followed a few minutes later by rookie Zed Williams with his second career NLL
goal. Saskatchewan then retaliated with two of its own from Ben McIntosh and Church.
Georgia was able to net two more, the final one a beautiful behind-the- back goal from Williams,
but it was too little too late as the Rush proved the victor when the buzzer sounded, 13-9.
“In our room, we believe we’re never out of a game,” Jackson said about the Swarm’s fourth
quarter effort. “Doesn’t matter how many goals we’re down, but if you’re going out there and not
giving it 100% every shift, then you shouldn’t be out there playing. It’s good that we showed that
we’re not going to quit. Again, we can’t wait until the last 5 minutes to ramp it up. We’ve got to
start from minute 1. We’ve got complete it with a full game.”
Jackson (3G, 1A) and L. Thompson (1G, 3A) led the Swarm in scoring, and King and Williams
both found the back of the net twice. Poulin made 41 saves on 54 SOG, good for a .759 SV%.
Church (3G, 3A) proved to be the Rush’s points leader of the night followed by Shattler (3G,
1A). Kirk earned his third straight win of the season by making 41 saves on 50 SOG. He
finished the night with a 9 GAA and a .820 SV%.
“For any team to start 3-0, that’s substantial,” Kirk said. “That’s great, especially in such a tight
league. Every win that you get and every loss that another team gets in that division is huge.”
The Swarm leaves Georgia for a lengthy road trip. It visits the Calgary Roughnecks (1-3) on
Saturday, Jan. 13, faceoff set for 9:00 p.m. ET. The struggling Riggers hope a Swarm team that
has not seen much success in recent years in Scotiabank Saddledome will prove to be the
antidote it needs as it looks for its first win since Week 2.
After next Saturday, there will be only one undefeated team remaining in the NLL.
Saskatchewan continues its road trip by visiting the only remaining undefeated team in the NLL,
the division rival Colorado Mammoth (3-0), on Saturday, Jan. 13. Faceoff is set for 8:00 p.m.