NLL: Rush Outlast Warriors 14-8

Brett Mydske of the Vancouver Warriors lays the stick on Mark Matthews of the Saskatchewan Rush. December 27, 2021 at Rogers Arena. (Photo credit: Jaclyn McGee/Vancouver Warriors)

The Saskatchewan Rush and Vancouver Warriors battled to a stalemate for three quarters on Saturday night before the Rush finally took control in the last 15 minutes, going on a six-goal run en route to a 14-8 victory. The win improves the Rush record to 4-2, moving them into second place in the West Division. The Warriors drop to 1-7, the worst record in the division.

Vancouver had a busy week away from the arena, making a number of moves to try to shore up their position this year and going forward. Early on, it appeared that these moves were having a positive impact. The Rush opened the scoring when veteran defender Kyle Rubisch scored his first of the season on transition, but the Warriors responded responded, putting pressure on the Rush defence and eventually going on a three-goal run in the final five minutes of the quarter.

The second quarter saw the teams exchange goals early. Saskatchewan was able to score twice in less than a minute mid-quarter to draw even, but a late power play goal by Keegan Bal gave Vancouver the lead at halftime.

This is where the goaltenders took over. In a game where chippy play began before the opening whistle, tempers flared in the third quarter, giving both sides power play opportunities, including a four-minute power play for the Warriors. But netminders Alex Buque for the Rush and rookie Aden Walsh for the Warriors shut down the offence on both sides. No power play goals were scored—in fact, the two goalies held the game scoreless for almost 15 and a half minutes before Saskatchewan’s Ryan Keenan finally beat Walsh with only 29 second left on the clock in the third to tie the game.

In the fourth quarter, the teams exchanged goals in the early going, but Saskatchewan’s Jake Boudreau finally opened the flood gates at the 11-minute mark with a goal that began a six-goal run, giving the Rush a huge lead. Sean Evans stopped the run with his first goal of the night with only a minute-and-a-half left, followed by a final goal from the Rush’s Jerrett Smith to close out the game.

Robert Church (2 goals, 3 assists) and Mark Matthews (1 G, 4 A) both contributed five points to the Rush offence, while the Warriors were paced by Kyle Killen, with two goals and two helpers.

Walsh ended the game with 41 saves in the loss while Buque stopped 43 shots.

Next up for Saskatchewan is a visit to Calgary on Friday, Feb 10, to take on the Roughnecks. Also next Friday, the Warriors head to Fort Worth to face the Panther City Lacrosse Club.