Saturday night the Saskatchewan Rush (6-2) thumped the Philadelphia Wings (7-4) 15-10 in front of 9,683 fans at the Wells Fargo Center in South Philadelphia. With the victory the Rush improved to 5-0 on the road this season. The Rush have scored 31 total goals in the last two road games. Last week they defeated Halifax 16-15 in overtime.
A trio of Rush players collected hat tricks Saturday night: Jeff Shattler, Ryan Keenan and Ben McIntosh. Mark Matthews collected a goal and eight assists on the evening.
From the start of the game, Saskatchewan was in control of the tempo as goalie Evan Kirk made his presence known by throwing a body check on an incoming Wings’ player. The Rush kept a steady flow going on offense with a five-goal run that would turn a one-goal deficit to a four goal lead. Ryan Keenan fought off a defender’s check to tie the game 3-3 and with just 1:09 to go in the first quarter Matthews would put the Rush up one firing a shot past Higgins. The Rush would score three more times in the first 3:05 of the second quarter chasing Higgins from the net.
Philadelphia fought back as Steph Charbonneau would score twice in 1:15 to cut the Rush lead in half, but 36 seconds later Ben McIntosh took the momentum away with his hat trick goal. Keenan and Shattler would score within a minute of each other early in the third to increase the lead to five. But as Philadelphia has done all season, they didn’t give up.
Philadelphia scored four of the next five goals to make the score 11-9 in the first minute of the final quarter. Josh Currier tallied twice in this mini-run that brought the fans to the edge of their seats.
Connor Robinson, drafted in the first round by the Rush in 2018, scored to make it 12-9. On Robinson’s goal, Drexel University alumni Robert Church collected his 300th career assist. Just over two minutes later Austin Murphy scored his first career goal in the NLL.
Brett Hickey would score with just over five minutes remaining to try to mount a comeback, but captain Chris Corbeil would put one into the empty net, and Robert Church would get his second of the night on the power play to make the final 15-10.
This was somewhat of a homecoming for Church and McIntosh, as for four years they played alongside each other at Drexel University. McIntosh now makes his home in the Philadelphia area.
Ryan Keenan (3G/2A), Jeff Shattler (3G/2A), Ben McIntosh (3g/3A), Robert Church (2G/3A) and Mark Matthews (1G/8A) led this well-balanced attack. Kirk stopped 42 of 52 shots for the win.
Josh Currier, Blaze Riorden and Steph Charbonneau each scored twice for Philadelphia. Trevor Baptiste dominated the faceoffs again winning 22 of 30.
Brandon Miller who came in with 3:05 gone in the second quarter was hit with the loss. Miller stopped 21 of 28 shots, including a save with his head to end the first half, while Higgins stopped 14 of 21 before being pulled.
Philadelphia will now travel to Denver to face the Colorado Mammoth (5-6) inside the “Loud House” before returning home for a very crucial Saturday afternoon game on March 7th versus New England. An Eastern division game with the winner holding the ever important tiebreaker.