The Saskatchewan Rush were on the wrong side of a failed comeback bid to open its 2019 National Lacrosse League (NLL) season in New England Friday, losing 12-11 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.
A late powerplay goal was all the Black Wolves needed to lock down the victory as stingy defense and stout goaltending dominated the fourth quarter. It was the Black Wolves Riley O’Connor scoring his fourth goal of the game with Brettt Mydske in the penalty box to give his team a 12-10 lead in the dying minutes of the game.
Robert Church, Saskatchewan’s leading goal scorer last season, scored his third goal of the game with 1:09 remaining, but were unable to find the equalizer after that.
It was a slow start for the Rush, who were playing its first game of the season after a set of bye weeks to start the season.
They quickly fell to a 3-0 first quarter deficit before reigning NLL scoring champion Mark Matthews scored the team’s first goal of the season on a blazing shot from long distance.
A combination of Matthews, Church and Jeff Shattler evened the score at 4-4 in the second quarter, but it was shortlived as the Black Wolves regained its lead for a 9-7 scoreline at halftime.
Saskatchewan came out firing in the third quarter. A pair of goals by Ben McIntosh and an extra marker by Robert Church gave the Rush its first lead of the game with 3:05 remaining the in the third quarter. It would once again be short lived as Callum Crawford evened the game up at 10-10 with 48 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Matthews led Saskatchewan with eight points (two goals and six assists). Ryan Keenan quietly followed that up with seven assists of his own, while McIntosh totaled six points with three goals and three assists.
The Rush return home to Sasktel Centre to welcome the expansion San Diego Seals on Jan. 5, 2019 for its championship banner raising ceremony.