NLL: Big Second Quarter Vaults Rush Past Desert Dogs 15-10

Jack Hannah tries to get around Kyle Rubisch. Las Vegas Desert Dogs vs. Saskatchewan Rush, January 28, 2023. (Photo: Saskatchewan Rush/NLL)

The Saskatchewan Rush offence erupted for eight goals in the second quarter to take a big lead they would not relinquish as they defeated the Las Vegas Desert Dogs 15-10 on Saturday night. The win moves the Rush up to a second-place tie in the West Division with the Colorado Mammoth at 3-2 while the Dogs sit at 1-5, in sixth place in the division.

Saskatchewan opened the scoring two-and-a-half minutes in, when rookie Austin Madronic beat Landon Kells for his first goal of the night. Alex Buque made an incredible save soon after, setting the tone for the kind of night he was going to have.

The Desert Dogs answered back with a pair of their own to take the lead and the teams exchanged goals late in the quarter, with Las Vegas holding the one-goal advantage.

Connor Kirst scored just nine seconds into the second quarter, padding the Dogs lead, but that’s when the Rush took over. Saskatchewan’s Ryan Keenan scored less than a minute later, beginning an eight-goal run. The run included two more for Madronic, giving him his first-ever hat trick. Vegas added two more goals to close out the quarter, but Saskatchewan had built up a comfortable 10-6 lead by the halftime buzzer.

The Dogs came out of the locker room to start the third quarter looking to close the gap. They recorded two goals in the first five minutes of the quarter to get within striking distance, but the Rush were able to stop the run and pick up two more of their own to finish the quarter.

The fourth was more of the same, with the teams exchanging goals, but neither side able to take control of the tempo. A Rush goal by Mark Matthews with just 1:42 left on the clock – his fourth goal of the evening – sealed the deal and gave the Rush the win.

Matthews’ name was all over the scoresheet on this night, leading all scorers with 12 points on four goals and eight assists. Rush goalie Alex Buque saved 40 shots in the win.

For the Desert Dogs, Rob Hellyer led the way with a goal and four assists, while Kells made 27 saves between the pipes.

The Rush are on the road next week to face the struggling Vancouver Warriors. Meanwhile, the Desert Dogs return home to host the Colorado Mammoth. Both games take place next Saturday, Feb. 4.