On a cold Saturday night the Saskatchewan Rush managed to heat up just enough to defeat the Vancouver Stealth 11-9 at SaskTel Centre.
It was the second game of a weekend doubleheader for the Rush, a fact not lost on head coach Derek Keenan.
“It was a grinder of a game, I figured it was going to be that way,” he said. “Once again we had some guys make some plays at important times.”
The win seats the Rush at first in the National Lacrosse League, with a 7-1 record so far this season.
More than 14,000 people packed into SaskTel Centre to cheer on the Rush, but the Stealth did their best to keep the crowd quiet through the game.
For every Rush goal that sent fans on their feet — cheering and beating their chests with clenched fists — the Stealth had an answer.
Vancouver managed to battle back from a four goal halftime deficit to tie the game at nine just before the end of the third quarter, bringing a calmness and silence to the Rush faithful.
A much different atmosphere than the previous home game, an overtime thriller against the Buffalo Bandits that had SaskTel Centre rocking.
But a Curtis Knight goal with just one second left in the third, followed by a wedding proposal at centre field, got Rush fans rowdy once more.
An ignited crowd watched as Knight got his second goal of the game with five minutes remaining to help secure a Saskatchewan victory.
The win capped off a busy travel day that started with an early morning flight out of Denver, where the Rush played Friday night, before connecting in Phoenix and eventually landing in Saskatoon.
Tyler Carlson, who made 39 saves for his first win of the season, said it is all apart of being a professional.
“You’re going to have to battle through things as a professional lacrosse player,” he said. “Today we battled through them and got the two wins this weekend that we needed.”
It won’t be long before the two teams meet again. Saskatchewan travels to Vancouver next weekend to take on the last place Stealth for the second time in as many weeks.