The Saskatchewan Rush couldn’t find any special comeback powers on superhero night, losing to the Rochester Knighthawks 13-10 Saturday at Sasktel Centre.
It was an unusually sloppy performance from the league-leading Rush. Missed shots on offence, missed coverage on defence and timely goals from Rochester stopped Saskatchewan from getting any flow to its game.
“We didn’t play our game on the back end and gave them way too many quality chances,” head coach Derek Keenan said following the game. “You saw it right ’til the end of the game. They would have one guy on the floor and we would have five guys on the floor and they would get re-possession. That’s just not finishing.”
Captain Chris Corbeil was just as puzzled with the result after the game.
“It’s weird, it’s like a lack of preparation but we watch what they did in previous weeks and had success against us in the past,” he said. “We knew what to expect and that’s what they did.”
Knighthawks goaltender Matt Vinc proved to be the difference during long stretches of the game. The four-time goaltender of the year had 43 saves in the win and held the Rush without a goal for almost the entire third quarter.
After falling to an early 3-0 deficit, Saskatchewan would claw it back to a 4-3 game at the end of the first quarter.
Trading goals in the second quarter, the K-Hawks built a 7-5 lead to start the second half and didn’t allow the Rush its first goal of the half until there was 1:33 remaining in the third quarter. That’s when the Rush woke up.
Down 11-6, Saskatchewan would score three straight goals before Robert Church’s shot from distance sent the 14,811-person crowd into a frenzy with his fourth goal of the night, making it a 11-10 game. That’s as close as the Rush would get. Rochester would score on a powerplay gifted to them by Church on an illegal substitution before adding an empty net goal.
It’s the second loss to Rochester this season after a 16-11 loss on Feb. 17, making it a statement game that looks impressive on the Knighthawks résumé. They also held the Rush to a season-low 10 goals and are the first team to beat the Rush twice in a season since 2016.
So what gives, coach?
“Hard to explain. They hadn’t beaten us since 2012 prior to this year and they did a good job of keeping us out of the middle,” Keenan said.
Mark Matthews was one of the more frustrated Rush players, scoring one goal on his eight shots. He had trouble explaining what the K-Hawks keep doing to the Rush this season.
“I honestly don’t know,” he said. “This is the first two times I’ve ever lost to them in my career,” Matthews said.
“They just have something figured out on us this year I guess and we can’t figure Vino (Matt Vinc) out for the life of us.”
Most impressive of all, was how Rochester held the lead from start to finish — the first time the Rush haven’t had a wire-to-wire lead all season.
Corbeil doesn’t think there’s any excuse for that.
“We’re an experienced group. Lacrosse is a high scoring game. We should have the confidence and the composure to play from behind.”
Joe Resetarits lead the Knighthawks with two goals and five assists. Sensational rookie Austin Shanks scored five times for the visitors, shouldering most of the offence on Saturday.
The loss would have tightened up the western division, but Vancouver shocked the second-place Colorado Mammoth 13-12 in Denver, setting up an important matchup with the Mammoth on April 7 at Sasktel Centre.