Last weekend, the Warriors traveled to San Diego ready to battle the Seals and it earned them their third win of the season. This weekend, the Warriors will need to be equally hungry for a victory as they face the slumping Saskatchewan Rush. The Rush will be looking to avoid their first four-game losing streak since 2011.
Few things could’ve gone better for the Warriors in their 14-6 win against the Seals. Without Logan Schuss, the team’s other primary and secondary scorers stepped up and posted the team’s largest output of the season, helped in large part by Keegan Bal’s six goals.
With the Rush’s defence underperforming of late – they are allowing 15.3 goals against over their last three games – the Warriors can capitalize on those struggles by building off their own offensive successes in their last game.
Goaltender Eric Penney continued to excel, allowing six goals in the win – his lowest total allowed in his career when playing at least 30 minutes. Penney now has the lowest goals against average (8.88) in the NLL for netminders who have played at least 250 minutes.
Yet, despite all the analytical advantages the Warriors look to have in all facets of the game heading into this contest, head coach Chris Gill knows that the Rush are a team you can never sleep on.
“I’m concerned that we’re playing against a veteran team that has won championships that’s on a three-game slide,” said Gill. “I know they’re not going to want to make it four losses in a row. We’ve got an angry team to play against. At the end of the day, we’ve got to make sure we’re buying into what we’re doing and buying into what makes us great.”
The Warriors defence will need to remain focused if they want to keep the expected Rush attack at bay. Over their last three games, the back-end has been doing a solid job holding the opposing team’s offences to an average of eight goals per game.
Gill stressed that another masterful performance by Penney will be needed when the Rush come into Rogers Arena looking to take the season-series.
“It’s big when our goaltending can step up and be that last line of defence,” said Gill. “It will be huge against the Rush, who are the most dialled-in offence of all the offences in the league, in my opinion.
“Man, can they move that ball. They have some talented athletes and they’ve got some superstars. We’ve got to step up to the challenge and I think we’re ready for it.”
Warriors defensive coach Clayton Richardson praised the back-end’s outing against the Seals and highlighted the importance of playing for 60 minutes.
“From Eric Penney on out, we really showed what we can do if we commit to the system,” said Richardson. “We’ve talked about the importance of defence and of trust. I think this was a good example of the guys showing up willing to battle. It was the first time we put in a full 60 minutes on the floor.”
Despite the Warriors road victory, the team should be eager to return to Rogers Arena considering the jubilation of winning their last game at home in thrilling fashion, even if that means leaving the nicer weather in San Diego.
“We’re excited to be back home,” Forward Mitch Jones said. “Every game seems to get a little bit more exciting and the crowd seems to get more and more into it. We can’t wait to get another win in front of our fans.”
Hopefully the fans won’t have to wait too long for that next home win. Following Saturday’s home match, the Warriors won’t be returning to Rogers Arena until March 16th. This weekend’s match will be featured on B/R Live at 10 pm EST.