The Saskatchewan Rush hope to take a huge step toward a third straight National Lacrosse League championship Saturday when they host the Colorado Mammoth with the Western Division title on the line.
The Rush took a 1-0 lead in the best of three series last weekend with an 18-9 win in Denver, but Rush assistant captain Ben McIntosh knows advancing will not be easy.
“None of these games are going to be easy,” said McIntosh. He said Saturday’s clash is likely to be another hard fought game, pointing out last week’s 18-9 win in Denver was closer than the scored indicated.
“They played with us all the way up until with 10 minutes left in the game so, it’s a hard game.”
The Coquitlam, BC resident could be a key performer Saturday. He has held the hot hand against Colorado scoring four times last weekend to count 15 goals in five matches against the Mammoth this season. McIntosh said luck has been on his side.
“ I guess the balls are just going in when we play Colorado, for me, I’ll take that.”
Colorado needs a regulation win to force an immediate, 10 minute mini game to decide the series and a spot in the league final. A Rush win in regulation would mean a two-game sweep.
The game at Sask Tel Centre which starts at 7;30 can be heard on 98-Cool. Rush hour with the voice of the Rush Dave Thomas signs on at 6;30.
Game notes by Scott Zerr:
Saskatchewan Rush (W1) vs. Colorado Mammoth (W3)
(Saskatchewan leads series 1-0)
May 20th 2017, 7:30pm (CST)
SaskTel Centre, Saskatoon SK
The Saskatchewan Rush are a win away from a getting a crack at their third straight Champion’s Cup, and they’ll go after that victory in Game 2 of the NLL West Division Final against the Colorado Mammoth.
Saskatchewan opened up a 1-0 lead in the series last weekend in Denver when they blasted the Mammoth 18-9 behind a second-half offensive explosion that saw the Rush score 14 goals including nine in the fourth quarter. The two-time defending NLL champions can eliminate Colorado with a win in Game 2 and move on to face the winner of the East Division Final where the Georgia Swarm, the number-one overall playoff seed, has a 1-0 series advantage on the Toronto Rock. If the teams are tied with one win each after Game 2, a 10-minute mini-game will immediately follow to decide the series.
The Rush’s dominant second-half against the Mammoth set franchise single-game playoff records for total goals, goals in one half, and goals in one quarter. Paving the way for Saskatchewan was Adam Jones, the former Colorado star who had endured a number of playoff failures with his former club. Jones was a one-man wrecking crew in the second half, scoring six goals, twice notching back-to-back markers, and registering a pair of power-play tallies as well. Jones and Mark Matthews (2 goals, 7 assists) both finished with nine points, while Robert Church (2 goals, 6 assists) and Ben McIntosh (4 goals, 3 assists) also helped ignite the Rush offence. Ryan Keenan and Mike Messenger both scored their first NLL playoff goals as did Tor Reinholdt who stepped into the lineup to replace injured Rush captain Chris Corbeil. Curtis Knight had Saskatchewan’s other goal, while netminder Aaron Bold made 31 saves.
The Rush and Mammoth met four times during the regular season with Saskatchewan winning three of the games, including both at home with one coming in overtime. Saskatchewan’s final weekend of the regular season featured a 10-9 victory in Colorado as Ben McIntosh notched a hat trick and Ryan Keenan racked up five points (1 goal, 4 assists). Curti Knight, Marty Dinsdale, and Mark Matthews each scored twice in the win.
Prior to that game, the Mammoth won their only meeting of the season against the Rush, coming out on top 14-10 behind a seven-point effort from Jeremy Noble (4 goals, 3 assists). Robert Church had a hat trick for the Rush with Marty Dinsdale, Mark Matthews, and Ben McIntosh scoring twice, and Adam Jones and Adrian Sorichetti adding one each.
Despite a pair of outstanding goaltending performance by Mammoth netminder Dillon Ward, the Rush won the first two games against Colorado this season. Ward totaled 51 saves but Ben McIntosh’s fourth goal of the game came 1:25 into overtime to lift Saskatchewan to a 12-11 victory. Mark Matthews with three goals and three assists and Robert Church’s two goals and three assists helped pace the Rush attack. Brett Mydske, Marty Dinsdale and John Lafontaine each scored once for the Rush. Back in mid-February, the Rush eked out an 8-7 win as they dodged by the Mammoth, who got 56 saves from Ward. Ben McIntosh scored twice for Saskatchewan with Curtis Knight, Jeff Cornwall, Chris Corbeil, Ryan Keenan, Mark Matthews, and Adrian Sorichetti adding a goal apiece for the Rush.
The Rush captured their first home-turf victory in Saskatoon by beating the Mammoth 12-10 last January. Mark Matthews scored the last of his four goals to tie the game 10-10, and Robert Church potted the game-winner with Chris Corbeil adding a shorthanded tally to put the game away late in the fourth. Zack Greer picked up three goals and two assists for Saskatchewan which also got single markers Jarrett Davis, Adrian Sorichetti, and Ben McIntosh.