With seven unanswered goals in the fourth quarter, the Saskatchewan Rush erased a two-goal deficit and took down the Philadelphia Wings 16-11 on Saturday night.
The victory, before a season-high crowd of 14,005 inside SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon, lifted the Rush one full game in front of the idle San Diego Seals for the top spot in the NLL’s West Division. The decision also upped the Rush’s season-high winning streak to four games, following up on Friday night’s impressive outing in San Diego.
“It was a big win in San Diego, but it would have meant nothing had we lost tonight,” said Rush GM/head coach Derek Keenan. “Towards the end of the third quarter I thought maybe we were out of gas. But that’s a championship pedigree team right there. We completely dominated the fourth quarter in all aspects.”
A four-goal run by the Wings, including the fourth and fifth goals of the night for Philadelphia’s Matt Rambo, gave them an 11-9 advantage after three quarters, but the Rush went on a scoring rampage in the fourth despite a tough travel day getting home from southern California.
“We stuck with the game plan. Hammer and chisel to stick with it and it paid off in the fourth quarter,” said Matthews, who scored three times in the final frame, giving him five goals on the night.
Matthews’ hat-trick tally came 1:05 into the fourth and Ben McIntosh followed 57 seconds later with his fourth of the night as he shoulder-blocked his way past a Wings defender and then deftly put a floater behind Doug Buchan to tie the game at 11-11. Four minutes later, McIntosh counted his fifth of the night and 11th goal of the weekend as he went short side on the Philly netminder after a setup by Matt Hossack.
A little over two minutes later, Matthews collected his fourth as he beat Buchan five-hole, and he notched his fifth just 12 seconds after getting the feed from Hossack and foiling the Philly netminder by faking high and going low with his shot.
Marty Dinsdale made it 15-11 and the Rush’s sixth goal of the quarter spelled the end of the night for Buchan, a former Saskatchewan draft pick. Kyle Rubisch finished off the Rush’s furious fourth-quarter production as he pocketed an empty-netter with 1:03 to go.
“The doubleheader weekends are tough, and we started to run out of gas a bit, but we found a next gear to get the ‘W,’” said Rubisch. “Playing two games in two nights is never easy and Philly brought it to us, but we were lucky to find that extra gear and put out the win.”
McIntosh’s five-goal effort propelled him to his second straight 40-goal season, while Matthews’ fiver helped him collect eight points on the night. McIntosh scored the Rush’s final two goals of the first half to put them in front 8-7 at the break and then 26 seconds into the third period, he registered his hat-trick marker.
Jeff Shattler’s two goals and shorthanded tallies by Robert Church and Chris Corbeil were the remainder of Saskatchewan’s goals. Church also chipped in five assists while Curtis Knight put up six helpers. Adam Shute went the distance on back-to-back nights in the Rush net as he totaled 42 saves.
Rambo (five goals and three assists) and Kevin Crowley (three goals, five assists) both had eight-point nights for the Wings. The Wings are in Vancouver tomorrow for a matinee with the Warriors at 6:00 p.m. ET. Stef Charbonneau, Blaze Riorden, and Jordan Hall had the other Philly goals.
The Rush are back on the road next Saturday when they take part in another chapter of the NLL’s Battle of the Prairies when they visit the Calgary Roughnecks.