On a night with more twists and turns than a player takes with his lacrosse stick every shift, the Saskatchewan Rush got the job done.
A record-setting night for their coach, backup goalie in net and a chance to clinch first in the division, the Rush rallied in the second half to beat the Toronto Rock 15-10 at SaskTel Centre.
Starting with the coach, Derek Keenan picked up career win number 122, the most by any head coach in National Lacrosse League history.
“Most importantly we clinched first place,” Keenan said. “It’s a nice milestone but without this group in here…we won a lot of games the last few years and the credit goes to the players and the organization.”
The visiting Rock gave Saskatchewan all they could handle, scoring four unanswered goals in the first quarter and battling to a 7-7 tie at the half.
After a sloppy opening thirty minutes, where passes were missing and some miscommunication led to breakdowns, the Rush began to turn things around. The first of two well-placed shots by Adam Jones got things rolling, and a well drawn up screen-play finished off by Ben McIntosh led to all five third quarter goals being scored by the Rush.
“They played us hard and we decided to get to the middle a little more and set some more picks which we were able to do,” forward Mark Matthews said, after a seven-point night where he led the Rush with four goals.
“They were running a lot in the first half but we just grinded them down like we do to teams and got a lot of looks.”
Joining Matthews on the scoresheet was Adam Jones(2), Robert Church(2), Ben McIntosh(2), Matt Hossack(2), Curtis Knight, Ryan Keenan and Dan Taylor. For Hossack, his pair of scores came on his only two shots of the game. So far this season he has scored on all five shots he has taken.
“Just try to do the job the coach asks me to do and if I see a chance to shoot I take it,” Hossack said, a rookie defenceman getting some extra looks due to injuries.
Also getting a few extra looks was Tyler Carlson, who started in goal over Aaron Bold for the first time in Saskatoon.
“Our D shut them down and it’s easy to play out there when you can see the ball,” Carlson said after a 40 save performance. “It’s just awesome (seeing) guys put their bodies on the line there was a whole bunch of blocked shots.”
The win means that the Rush goes into their final two games of the 2017 season with first place in the West Division locked down. They visit Colorado on Friday, April 28 and Calgary on Saturday, April 29.