NLL: Rush transition kills hopes of home opener win for Warriors

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 only British Columbia-based National Lacrosse league team played their first home game of the season Friday night at Rogers Arena in a nail biter game vs the Saskatchewan Rush. The Vancouver Warriors dropped their first home game 10-9 which brings their season record to 2-1 for the 2021/2022 season.

The Warriors didn’t come away with the two points, but they can take away a multitude of positives from their battle this week against a Canadian western rival.

The Warriors came out strong at both ends of the floor with a high compete level. Offensively, they outscored the Rush 4-1 in the opening quarter, with Mitch Jones and Keegan Bal both scoring twice.

Saskatchewan’s transition game killed the Warriors in the second quarter with a 6-0 run. Mike Messenger, Jeff Cornwall and Holden Garlent scored in succession to even the game at four each, and then they tacked on three more for a 7-4 lead at halftime.

The third quarter was evenly matched with two goals for each team. The fourth and final quarter the Warriors battled back strong as a team. They battled hard and pushed Saskatchewan the entire fourth quarter and outscored the Rush 3-1 in the final frame. Bal scored back-to-back bounce shots late to pull within a goal, but they couldn’t find the equalizer.

The effort came up just short on the scoreboard; however, the Warriors won many other on-floor battles all night and battled with one of the top powerhouse teams in the league. The game was a heartbreaking loss, but they showed quality characteristics in their team and playing ability. Teamwork, work ethic and effort showed Warriors’ fans they will compete with the best teams in the league. The rest of 2022 will be a fun Vancouver squad to watch.

Tyrell Hamer-Jackson dominated in the faceoff circle for a full 60-minute outing. His faceoff stat was 16 wins for 23 draws taken. Hamer-Jackson more than tripled his opponent in the win column for this category. The loose ball game was almost an even draw with both teams totaling low 60s each. The shot count was neck-and-neck with Vancouver having 43 shots on goal and Saskatchewan totaling 45 shots during the game.

The Warriors were led offensively by Keegan Bal (4G/2A), Mitch Jones (3G/2A) and Dinsdale (2G/2A). The offense unit also went 100% on the powerplay during this outing, as well as 100% on the penalty kill. Multiple cross bars were hit by Vancouver. The bounces did not drop for them.

Mark Matthews led the Rush with a hat trick.

The Warriors next game is back home at Rogers Arena on January 7, 2022 vs. the first place team in the west, the Colorado Mammoth, while the Rush host the San Diego Seals on New Year’s Eve at Sasktel Centre.