Will Edmonton Rush to First Title, or Will Rock Roll to Game 3
Three years ago the Edmonton Rush came within a half of a game from winning the NLL Champions Cup in 2012. They tool a 5-1 lead on the Rochester Knighthawks, and had no intention of turning them loose. Then the wheels fell off the truck.
Tonight the Rush return home as they host the Toronto Rock in Game 2 of the Cup final. A win tonight will give the Rush their first title in franchise history. A loss and they return to Toronto for Game 3 next Saturday night.
In game one the Rush took control and won convincingly 15-9. Robert Church and Mark Mathews (3G/3A) each, Ben McIntosh (2G/4A) led the Rush attack in game one. While the Toronto Rock were led by Kevin Crowley (2G/2A). Aaron Bold was solid in net stopping 39/48 shots, and even picking up an assist.
Story of game one was runs. Edmonton had a 6,3,4 goal run every time Toronto tried to get back into the game.
The seasons for both these teams have many stories surrounding them. For the Edmonton Rush the start of the 2015 season was not starting off well. The night before their opener, Wendy Keenan the wife of Head Coach and GM Derek Keenan lost her 14 month battle with pancreatic cancer. Obviously losing anyone to cancer, or in general is tough, but they have pulled together and feel she is looking down upon them and giving them the extra strength.
Then on March 20th goaltender Aaron Bold announced that his girlfriend Michelle Fines was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer in the bones. In 2010 Michelle (30 yrs old) was first diagnosed with breast cancer leading to chemotherapy, radiation treatments, as well as a full mastectomy, on the way to remission. The announcement came on what was to be the four year anniversary of being cancer free. But doctors discovered lesions on her hip, spine, skull and arm that have her fighting for her life again.
Since then Aaron Bold has somehow found a way to put this to the side when game time comes, but when the horn sounds ending the game, you can see what he is thinking of. Now there is a possibility the Rush won’t be in Edmonton for 2016.
For the Rock, GM Terry Sanderson passed away on November 27th from the effects of a heart attack he suffered while on a family vacation two weeks prior. Coach T was only 62. Terry is the father of Josh Sanderson, and owner Jamie Dawick said “I amazed how he has handled this all season”, Shooter is on a mission.
No one expected the Rock to win the east. With Colin Doyle, who was expected to be out the entire season, and Garrett Billing knee surgery and contract problems, fans hoped they be within contention. But with an early return of Doyle and a trade bringing the “Big Cat” Kevin Crowley over from New England, along with Hellyer and Hickey tearing it up on offense, the Rock put themselves in position for title number 7.
But to do that they must win in Edmonton, the same way Edmonton won in Toronto. They need to go on scoring runs, control the tempo and take the crowd out of the game immediately. Anything less, and the season can end tonight. B-Mill must be on his game between the pipes, forget about the game last week.
For Edmonton, they want to end it now. They are on the doorstep again of hoisting the cup, this time they don’t want it to slip through their grasp. High powered offense of Matthews, Church, Greer, and Ben McIntosh (Rookie of Year—my opinion) will look to do just what they did last week. If this happens, the Rush will be 2015 Champions.
But one question, Where will the banner raising take place?
*Information on Wendy Keenan from The Edmonton Sun, and on Coach Sanderson, The Toronto Star.