NLL: Roughnecks Trounce Rush for Second Week in a Row

The Saskatchewan Rush host the Calgary Roughnecks at Sask Tel Centre in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, March 26, 2022

The Calgary Roughnecks handed the Saskatchewan Rush their fifth straight loss Saturday night, winning 14-6 to sweep their season series. The win improves the Roughnecks’ record to 10-4, putting them solidly in second place in the West Conference. The slumping Rush drop to 5-8 and are now in a fifth-place tie with the expansion Las Vegas Desert Dogs.

This was never a close game. Calgary jumped out to a lead in the first quarter with three goals in three minutes, chasing Rush starting goaltender Alex Buque. Then they added another against backup goalie Eric Penney late in the quarter to take a 4-0 lead. Saskatchewan pressed hard in the quarter, but Calgary netminder Christian Del Bianco stopped a couple point-blank shots with spectacular saves.

Although Saskatchewan was able to finally get on the scoreboard early in the second quarter, Calgary quickly took back the momentum and added to their advantage. The Roughnecks were able to get their shooters to the Rush crease again and again, making what is typically one of the top defences in the league look like amateurs—on Calgary’s eighth goal of the game, Jesse King slipped the defence and was left so open in front of Penney that he was able to make several feints before putting the shot in the net without ever drawing a defenceman onto him.

The second half was more of the same, with the Roughnecks scoring three times before the Rush got their first of the half. And while a couple late game goals narrowed the gap slightly, the Roughnecks had this game well in hand throughout the final 30 minutes.

Calgary’s Tanner Cook led all scorers with a seven-point night, including a sock trick. Ryan Keenan (1 goal, 2 assists) and Robert Church (2 G, 1 A) both had three point nights for the Rush. Del Bianco cruised to the win, making 44 saves, while Penney stopped 28 shots in the loss.

In three games this season, the Roughnecks have had a margin of victory of nearly seven goals per game, dominating their fiercest rival at both ends of the floor. The Rush are currently out of the playoff picture for the second year in a row and will need to have a strong finish to the season to find their way back to the postseason.

The Roughnecks next travel to San Diego on Friday to face the Seals in a battle for first place in their conference. Both teams have won one game in their previous contests this season.

The Rush will try to get back into the win column next Saturday when they host the Vancouver Warriors. The Warriors have won three of their last four, including a 16-12 win over the Rush on February 25.