Rush Edged 12-11 by RockApril 28, 2012 - National Lacrosse League (NLL) Edmonton Rush
Edmonton (6-10) wrapped up the regular season on a two game losing skid and the Rock (9-7) head into the playoffs with five wins in their last six games and the top seeding in the East Division.
Toronto clinched the top spot in the East by halftime when divisional rivals Rochester edged Philadelphia 9-7 to provide the Rock with home field advantage in the division.
The Rush meet the Calgary Roughnecks (12-4) in a West Division semi-final May 5 at Scotiabank Saddledome.
Edmonton had a slow start Saturday against Toronto but a strong second half gave promise in the all-Canadian matchup as the Rush trailed 7-3 at halftime but clawed back to tie the score 9-9 at the three quarter mark.
"It was some colourful words, to say the least," said Rush head coach and general manger Derek Keenan of his halftime message to his club. "It was compete stuff. It wasn't execution. It was our effort and compete.
"We weren't ready to play in the first half. That was pretty evident," he said. "But we did battle back. And again, it goes to what we've talked about for a long time this year and that's play 60 minutes. I think if we play 60 minutes we can beat anybody."
The Rock outscored the Rush 3-2 in the final quarter to grab the win.
Shawn Williams (3G, 2A) paced the Edmonton attack and Zack Greer (2G, 2A), Ryan Ward (1G, 2A), Corey Small (1G, 1A), Brett Mydske (1G, 1A), Scott Evans (1G), Aaron Wilson (1G) and Ryan Dilks (1G) had other markers.
Toronto's Garrett Billings (5G, 3A) was the top triggerman, while Colin Doyle (1G, 7A), Josh Sanderson (2G, 3A), and Stephan Leblanc (1G, 3A) also contributed offensively.
Rush netminder Aaron Bold (6-10) stopped 31-of-43 shots on net in the loss and Nick Rose grabbed the win with 33 saves.
"It was definitely a playoff atmosphere," said Rush top scorer Williams of the matchup. "They were playing for a lot and right from the get-go they were definitely proactive on defence and they stymied us. We made some corrections and adjustments going into the second half and ended up making a game of it."
Toronto hit the board first in the contest when Billings and Scott Johnston scored consecutive goals before Edmonton's Evans ripped one just inside the post with less than four minutes remaining to make it a 2-1 Toronto lead.
The Rock added to their lead in the second quarter when Doyle and Billings tallied 32-seconds apart to put Toronto ahead 4-1 and then Billings notched his hat-trick marker while short-handed to put the visitors ahead by four goals.
With Toronto up 6-1 Edmonton's Wilson fired a one bouncer past Rose and after another Toronto marker, Williams' sidewinder with 49-ticks left in the half ended the scoring with Toronto up 7-3.
Edmonton came out flying in the second half as Greer sniped his 30th of the season just 19-seconds into the third quarter and Mydske added to the Rush total off a breakaway run in transition at 1:21, before Sanderson netted one back for the Rock for a 8-5 Toronto lead.
Dilks ran the floor in transition and beat Rose at 2:48 as the Rush pulled within two goals before Billings ripped his fourth of the game for a 9-6 lead.
With Toronto's Glen Bryan in the box for a five-minute major, Edmonton's power-play went to work as Greer and Ward fired markers within 33-seconds to make it a 9-8 Toronto advantage.
Special teams played a role in the Edmonton comeback as Williams completed a six-goal quarter when his shorthanded marker tied the score 9-9 with 71-seconds left in the frame.
Edmonton grabbed its first lead of the contest 42-seconds into the fourth quarter as Small cut into the middle and found the net past Rose with his ripper and then Toronto matched the score with Billings' fifth of the game to knot the score 10-10 at 2:23.
Williams put the home club back up 30-seconds later with his shorthanded score from on top of the crease and Toronto countered with a power-play tally three minutes later to tie the game 11-11.
Toronto regained the advantage with less than five minutes remaining as Leblanc's marker put the Rock up 12-11 for the game-winning goal.
Rush Team Awards: Edmonton announced the 2012 player awards Saturday and the following players took home hardware - Aaron Bold, MVP presented by Crystal Glass; Shawn Williams, Top Scorer presented by Pizza Hut; John Lintz, Tim Horton's Fan Choice; Jimmy Quinlan, Unsung Hero presented by Ellis Don; Derek Suddons, Top Transition Player presented by Super Cuts; Ryan Dilks, Community Service Award presented by Booster Juice, Kyle Rubisch, Top Defender presented by Shipper's Supply.
National Lacrosse League Stories from April 28, 2012
- Rush Edged 12-11 by Rock - Edmonton Rush
- Rock Finish off Regular Season with a Win - Toronto Rock
- Grant Sets Record as Mammoth Falls in Finale - Colorado Mammoth
- Minnesota Swarm Collects Fourth Straight Victory - Minnesota Swarm
- Rochester Clips Wings; to Host Playoff Game - Rochester Knighthawks
- Grant Sets NLL Single-Season Points Record - Colorado Mammoth
- News Philadelphia Wings Fall to Knighthawks 9-7 - Philadelphia Wings
- It All Comes Down to Tonight - Rochester Knighthawks
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