Headed into tonight’s game between the Edmonton Rush (15-2) and Vancouver Stealth (4-12) it would appear the Rush could just rest on their way to a first round playoff bye. With the history these two teams have playing each other over the years, and the Rush chasing their first Champions Cup victory, I do not see the Rush lying down. In fact I see the Rush making a strong push towards the playoffs and what better way to end the regular season than in front of their home crowd at Rexall Place.
Over the years the Rush and Stealth have had some very close games, especially in the playoffs. This may not be a playoff game, but it certainly will have the energy of such, with the Stealth being eliminated from contention. Two great playoff games that come to mind are the Paul Rabil OT winner at Key Arena in Seattle in 2010 and last year’s first round come back in Everett. Both games set the Stealth up for the run at the Champions Cup. Is it the year that Mark Matthews, Chris Corbeil, and Aaron Bold take the Rush to the promised land? They sit at number one in the West and the NLL with the only other team in their way on paper being back East in Rochester. The team that beat them in their last Champion’s Cup appearance.
Tonight’s game one should expect the Stealth to come out swinging, no holds barred, as they try to end their miserable season on a high note. The only way how is to beat the number one team, then go home Saturday night to finish off another West Division opponent. Rhys Duch will most likely lead the way as the teams’ number one scorer, with contributions from Lewis Ratcliff and Tyler Digby. We cannot count out Jamie Lincoln as well on the offensive end as he may have had one of his career night’s last time out. Defensively it will be interesting to see if the Stealth’s veterans can run with the youth of Edmonton as they have in the first two meetings, coming up a goal short in both contests. Will we see a heavy dose of Matt Roik or Tyler Richards in goal, as Richards has struggled late in the season? Good news for the Stealth, Roik has stepped between the pipes and kept the Stealth in the games, even without the help at the offensive end.
Keys for Edmonton’s success tonight would be to get your offense scoring early, and keep the defensive pressure on the Stealth star scorer Rhys Duch. Edmonton cannot fall into a scrappy game with the Stealth as they are in a position to win at all costs. All bets are off for a clean game, when the visiting team is eliminated from the race. The Stealth may be looking for a good tilt if things do not go their way, and Edmonton cannot use a silly suspension entering their chase for the Cup. Coach Derek Keenan has the Rush set up for success and will not let the team sit on its laurels, as he expects the push for perfection to continue.
You can catch tonight’s game by purchasing a ticket for Rexall Place, or on the Lacrosse Network 9:30 pm ET.