The Edmonton Rush have taken a 1-0 lead in the NLL Western Division Finals over the Calgary Roughnecks with a 10-8 victory. Tonight’s battle of two Alberta teams lived up to its pregame hype, and then some.
Both squads showed enormous intensity as they played a hard fought game one of a two game plus a 10-minute tie breaking mini game if needed series.
The first half of the game was played according to the Rush game plan. They looked like the team with the superior regular season record as they dominated in every category. They outshot Calgary 45-37; they outscored them 3-1 on power-play opportunities, and matched the Roughnecks physical play.
The Rush took a 3-0 first quarter lead on goals by Mark Mathews, Chris Corbeil, and Zack Greer. The Edmonton Offence swarmed the Calgary net and the score could have been much higher if not for the play of Roughnecks goalie Scigliano.
Edmonton came out and got one early in the second when Mark Mathews scored his second of the game at 2:18. It looked like the rout was on, but Calgary started to claw its way back into the game when Curtis Dickson scored at 5:49. Shawn Evans scored 15 seconds later to bring Calgary within two.
Edmonton then widened the gap when Mathews scored his hat trick goal midway through the second quarter. Mathew Dinsdale scored as well to give the Rush a 6-2 lead.
With only two seconds to go in the first half, Daryl Veltman scored to bring Calgary within three and provide a much-needed spark. At this point of the game it looked like Edmonton would cruise to victory and Calgary resembled the team that started the season at 2-9.
Zack Greer scored the first goal of the second half for Edmonton restoring a five-goal lead for the Rush. Calgary then caught fire and scored three straight goals to put them back in the game trailing the Rush by only a single goal.
The excitement continued to build as Calgary kept pace with Edmonton and eventually tied the game with just over three minutes to play. The crowd at Crystal Glass field (7,690) was on the edge of their seats as the teams traded scoring chances. The Rush finally scored to get them back the lead on a goal by Ben McIntosh and another to put the game away for the Rush by Zack Greer.
Greer ended the game with four points, 3 goals and 1 assist. Mathews, who was the games number one star, had 3 goals and four assists for 7 points. Mathew Dinsdale had a four-point night with a goal and three assists for the Rush.
Calgary’s Shawn Evans led the way for the Roughnecks with a goal and four assists. Curtis Dickson had a hat trick and an assist for four points.
Both teams will travel to Calgary for next Saturdays game two of the series. If the Rush win they will advance to the Champions Cup. If they lose, then a 10 minute tie-breaking mini-game will be played immediately after to determine who will move on to the NLL Finals