February 10, 2017 - National Lacrosse League (NLL) - Saskatchewan Rush
With three straight victories under the belts, the Saskatchewan Rush will look to keep their winning streak intact on Saturday night when they visit the Rochester Knighthawks.
In addition to their current winning streak, the Rush will also go after their ninth consecutive regular-season victory over the Knighthawks. The Rush have not lost to the K-Hawks in regular-season play since the 2011 campaign. The only other Rochester win in that span came in the 2012 Champion\'s Cup final when the Knighthawks fought for a come-from-behind 9-6 win to claim their first of three consecutive NLL championships.
The Rush jumped to the top of the NLL\'s West Division standings last weekend with a 15-11 victory in Calgary, giving them their sixth straight regular-season win over the arch-rival Roughnecks. Saskatchewan and Calgary both have a one-half game lead on Colorado in the West with a game in-hand on the Mammoth. Meanwhile, the Knighthawks dropped a 10-9 overtime decision to the New England Black Wolves and sit tied for third in the East Division.
In their previous meeting with the Knighthawks this season, the Rush capitalized on the momentum of raising the 2016 Champion\'s Cup banner to the ceiling of SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon and went on to win their home-opener 16-8. Mark Matthews paced the Rush attack with an 11-point outing behind four goals and seven assists, while Ben McIntosh and Robert Church both netted hat tricks. The Rush, who went 6-for-8 on the power play, also got goals from Curtis Knight, Jeff Cornwall, Chris Corbeil, Ryan Dilks, Ryan Keenan, and Marty Dinsdale. Aaron Bold racked up 40 saves in the win.
Last Saturday in Calgary, the Rush thoroughly dominated the second half against the Roughnecks, shutting out the home team in the third quarter and scoring six goals in the fourth to pull out the win. Mark Matthews fired in four goals for the Rush with Ben McIntosh registering a hat trick and Adam Jones adding a pair. Jones\' first goal of the night was the 200th goal of his NLL career. Robert Church, Marty Dinsdale, Adrian Sorichetti, Jeremy Thompson, Nik Bilic, and Matt Hossack also scored for the Rush, while Curtis Knight supplied five assists and Aaron Bold made a season-high 46 saves.
The rivalry between the Rush and Knighthawks intensified in their meeting for the 2012 Champion\'s Cup Final but Saskatchewan holds a commanding 10-1 record in regular-season action against Rochester. Three of the Rush\'s wins have come in overtime.
Last season, the Rush won both outings against Rochester led off by an 11-8 victory in Saskatchewan. The Rush stormed out to a 7-1 lead in the first quarter including three goals in a span of 59 seconds. The two teams met again in the regular-season finale on the K-Hawks home turf with the Rush firing in seven goals in the second quarter on their way to a 13-9 verdict.
Back in the 2015 season, the Rush blew out the Knighthawks 16-3 which marked the Rush\'s largest margin of victory over an opponent. The Rush got out of the blocks fast and led 11-1 at halftime and cruised the rest of the way. Robert Church (2 goals, 5 assists) and Mark Matthews (3 goals, 4 assists) both racked up seven points in the game while Ben McIntosh added six points (3 goals, 3 assists).
Two wins over the Knighthawks helped the Rush establish their record-setting 14-0 start to the 2014 season. Mark Matthews\' goal 1:16 into overtime gave the Rush a hard-fought 8-7 home-turf win, and Matthews along with Curtis Knight both racked up six points in a 15-11 road win. After winning in Rochester, the Rush traveled to Toronto the next day and beat the Rock setting a new NLL record for most consecutive road wins and a club record for most goals in an away game victory.
Rush vs. Knighthawks -Season-by-Season Glance
16-8 Rush win (Mark Matthews totals 11 points on four goals and seven assists)
13-9 Rush win (Zack Greer scored five goals and Mark Matthews notched seven points)
11-8 Rush win (Mark Matthews and Ben McIntosh both with two goals and two assists)
16-3 Rush win (Mark Matthews and Robert Church both register seven points)
15-11 Rush win (Mark Matthews and Curtis Knight each with six-point games)
8-7 OT Rush win (Mark Matthews scores overtime winner)
14-10 Rush win (Zack Greer racks up four goals and four assists)
11-9 Rush win (Zack Greer paces Rush attack with four goals)
*9-6 Knighthawks win (Cody Jamieson racks up eight points including four goals)
*denotes playoff game - Champion\'s Cup Final
13-9 Knighthawks win (Mike Accursi scores four goals against former club)
12-11 Rush OT win (Andy Secore completes hat trick with game-winner)
10-9 Rush OT win (Jimmy Quinlan scores twice and adds three assists)
Statistically Speaking: With his four-goal outing against Calgary, the Rush\'s Mark Matthews has moved into fourth place in league scoring 36 points, and into a tie with teammate Robert Church for sixth in goals with 13. Church is tied for 10th in scoring with 25 points, and he and Matthews are tied for third with 23 assists ... The Rush\'s power play continues to be red-hot with Robert Church leading the NLL with 10 power-play goals and Mark Matthews tied for first with 12 power-play assists. Saskatchewan\'s power play is ranked first in the NLL at 62.5% (20-for-32), while the penalty kill sits second at 50.0% ... Rochester\'s special teams are both ranked seventh in the league with a power play at 50.0% (14-for-28) and penalty kill at 44.4% ... Rush transition Jeremy Thompson is tied for fourth in the league with 46 loose ball scoops and is also fourth in faceoff wins with 61 ... Saskatchewan\'s Kyle Rubisch is tied for third in the league with 11 forced turnovers. Teammates Chris Corbeil and Nik Bilic are tied for ninth with nine apiece ... The Rush\'s Ryan Dilks and Nik Bilic are tied for third in defencemen scoring with five points, and Bilic stand fourth with four assists ... First overall pick Ryan Keenan is sixth in rookie scoring with 11 points and second in power-play assists by a rookie with five.
By The Numbers: It\'s a showdown of two of the NLL\'s best netminders when the Rush and Knighthawks collide. Saskatchewan\'s Aaron Bold currently has the third-best goals-against average at 11.00 and the fourth-best save-percentage at 785. Meanwhile, future Hall of Famer Matt Vinc of the K-Hawks leads the league with 213 saves, is tied for first with a .798 save-percentage, and is second with a 10.79 GAA ... So far this season, the Rush have outscored their opponents 71-53 in first-quarter action and have twice scored a league-high six goals in the opening 15 minutes ... The Rush are averaging 13.60 goals per game, which is second-highest in the league. Rochester has allowed just 10.50 goals-against per game, the second-best number in the NLL ... The Rush are 3-0 when they lead after the first quarter, 3-0 when they lead after three quarters, and 3-0 when they outshoot their opponents ... Rochester is 1-3 when they trail at halftime and 0-3 when they trail after three quarters ... Saskatchewan\'s Mark Matthews is currently tied fourth in Three Star Voting with Rochester goalie Matt Vinc each with nine points (1 x First Star, 1 x Second Star, 1 x Third Star) with Robert Church right behind with eight points (1 x First Star, 1 x Second Star).