NLL: Big Opening Day Win for Rush a Good Sign for Season

Mark Matthews. (Photo credit: Cliff McCaig)

The Saskatchewan Rush got their season off to a tremendous start on Saturday night with a decisive 18-6 win over the defending champion Colorado Mammoth.

Goaltender Alex Buque shut down the Mammoth offence in his debut with the Rush, stopping 42 shots while allowing just a half dozen goals. If he can continue to excel at that position, a lot of the close decisions that Saskatchewan lost last year might go the other way this season.

On the other end of the floor, Mark Matthews (2 goals, 10 assists) and Robert Church (4 G, 6 A) both had 10-point nights. Putting the ball in the back of the net was often a problem for this team last year, so this again is an encouraging situation.

In fact, the Rush led in virtually every statistical category in their home opener. They outscored Colorado in all four quarters, won more faceoffs, took almost a third more shots, collected more loose balls, and went six-for-six on the powerplay, versus the Mammoth’s one-for-three.

The next challenge for the Rush is travelling to California to face the San Diego Seals, who also won on the weekend, defeating the New York Riptide 15-14.

Last season, the Seals finished in a three-way tie for first in the West Division, with a 10-8 record, but fell short in the postseason. They look better this year—offseason acquisition Curtis Dickson scored five times on opening night.

For the Rush, the key challenges will be controlling the one-two punch of Dickson and Dane Dobbie as well as keeping their own offensive pressure at the same level they displayed last week. Getting things working on both ends of the floor, on the road, will prove to be challenging. But in this league, every night is a challenge.

The game gets underway on Friday night at 7:00 PT in Pechanga Arena in San Diego