The Saskatchewan Rush shut out the Philadelphia Wings in the fourth quarter to win on Saturday by a score of 16-11 after being down by two goals at Sasktel Centre.
It was the Rush’s second game of the weekend, their first a 14-8 win in San Diego Friday night. After the weekend, they’re now a full game ahead of the Seals for first place in the NLL’s Western Division.
“It was a big win in San Diego, but it would have meant nothing had we lost [Saturday],” said Rush GM/head coach Derek Keenan in a team press release. “Towards the end of the third quarter I thought maybe we were out of gas. But that’s a championship pedigree team right there. We completely dominated the fourth quarter in all aspects.”
The Wings saw early goals from the usual players including Kevin Crowley and two from Matt Rambo. Jeff Shattler added two in the first while Chris Corbeil and Robert Church each added one for the Rush.
Blaze Riorden tied the game at four 35 seconds into the second quarter and it was back-and-forth from there with neither team allowing the other any more momentum than two goals in a row. Mark Matthews answered Riorden’s goal with his first of two for Saskatchewan. Rambo and Crowley then gave Philly their first lead with their seconds goals of the game. Matthews and Ben McIntosh’s goals then gave Saskatchewan a one-goal lead. Steph Charbonneau and McIntosh then traded goals on the same Wings’ penalty kill which sent the Rush to the dressing room up 8-7.
The game was surprisingly close considering it was the defending champs vs. the last-place team, but the Wings were playing for pride and it showed. They pushed the Rush for three quarters.
McIntosh continued his scoring prowess as he struck again 26 seconds in the third quarter. He scored the lone Saskatchewan goal before Philadelphia went on a tear, scoring four straight for an 11-9 lead. Jordan Hall found the back of the net for his first goal. Crowley added his last goal of the night. Matt Rambo added two for Philadelphia and it appeared Saskatchewan was concerned.
They didn’t need to be, however. The Wings have had notoriously hard times closing out games this year with bad fourth quarters, and that was the case again. Saskatchewan outscored them 7-0 in the fourth quarter for a sound defeat. Matthews scored three and McIntosh added a pair to give them each five in the game. Matthew Dinsdale also found the scoresheet. Kyle Rubisch got the empty netter.
“We stuck with the game plan. Hammer and chisel to stick with it and it paid off in the fourth quarter,” said Matthews.
Philadelphia narrowly won the faceoff battle 16-15 as Trevor Baptiste continues chasing the single-season record for face-offs won. Saskatchewan dominated on loose balls with 71 to Philadelphia’s 59. The teams were equally solid on power plays in a game that was relatively penalty free.
Adam Shute got the win for the Rush as he continues to play well while Evan Kirk rehabs an injury. The Wings’ Doug Buchan allowed 15 goals before he was pulled in favour of Gowah Abrams late in the fourth.
Three players had eight points – Matthews and Rambo had five goals and three assists for their respecting team. Kevin Crowley had three goals and five assists.
Philadelphia did not have time to sit around and reflect on the loss; they were right back on the road Sunday losing in Vancouver 19-12 in a game that was never close. Saskatchewan returns on 4/20 when they play rival Calgary.