The defending champion Saskatchewan Rush (12-4) entered the weekend set tied with Colorado for top spot in the West and then got things started on a good note when they beat the Mammoth 11-5 in Denver on Friday night. And now with Saturday’s victory, the Rush get a bye directly into the West Division Final and will host Game 2 of that series on Saturday, May 21. Colorado (10-6) will host the one-game, winner-take-all Division Semifinal against either Calgary or Vancouver.
With the game tied 6-6 early in the third quarter, the Rush broke things in their favor as they racked up a five-goal outburst in less than five minutes. Ben McIntosh got it rolling for the Rush when he beat Colorado goalie Dillon War with a shot through the legs. McIntosh then completed his hat trick, and just 37 seconds after that, Curtis Knight found a lane to the net, outwaited Ward with a well-time deke, and found the back of the net to make it 9-6. Only 32 seconds later, Zack Greer made it 10-6 when he rocketed home a shot from the top of the slot. Knight then registered his hat-trick goal 23 seconds after that as he took a pass at the edge of the crease and slipped a shot behind Mammoth backup goalie Alex Buque.
The two teams engaged in a back-and-forth start to the contest that was sparked when the Rush set a new franchise record for the fastest two goals at a lightning-quick five seconds to put them up 2-1. The record-setting effort was launched when Curtis Knight scored his first of three on the night, and right off the ensuing draw, Rush faceoff specialist Jeremy Thompson cruised down the floor and buried a shot. The previous team record was seven seconds which was set in part by current Colorado co-coach Chris Gill.
McIntosh made it 3-1 for Saskatchewan with a slam dunk-style shot in tight, but the Mammoth then scored three in a row to jump ahead.
Saskatchewan tied it 4-4 on a goal by Mark Matthews, and then the Rush received a highlight-reel tally from Robert Church. The Rush forward collected his own rebound, darted behind the net, and then went airborne as he lunged around the post and tucked the ball into the net to make it 5-4. But the two teams went into the break tied 5-5 on the second of three on the night for Mammoth forward Jeremy Noble.
Saskatchewan’s Jarett Davis and Colorado’s Callum Crawford traded goal in the early moments of the third quarter before the Rush went on their five-goal rampage.
Mark Matthews (1 goal, 4 assists) and rookie Dan Taylor (5 assists) paced the Rush attack while Saskatchewan goaltender Aaron Bold turned in his second straight standout performance as he finished with 36 saves.
Story by SaskRush.com. Photo by Calvin So.