Rush Rumble Through Rock in 2018 Season Debut
Toronto ON - Ben McIntosh scored five goals, and the duo of Ryan Keenan and Jeff Shattler combined for 15 points as the Saskatchewan Rush opened the 2018 National Lacrosse League season with a 17-9 blasting of the Toronto Rock on Saturday night.
In the lone meeting of the season between the cross-Canada rivals, the Rush blew open the game with a dominant second half as they outscored the Rock 8-3 over the final 30 minutes.
Back-to-back goals by Brett Hickey had brought the Rock within three at 9-6 just prior to halftime, but the Rush got the second half started quickly as Curtis Knight fired a shot behind a screened Brandon Miller just 29 seconds in. Three minutes later, the Rush jumped out to a five-goal cushion when McIntosh collected his hat-trick goal. McIntosh snared a perfectly timed cross-floor pass from Mark Matthews and used his scintillating quick-stick skills to put his shot home. Matthews played the set-up role again as his touch pass to Jeff Shattler led to his second goal in his first game with Saskatchewan. A long shot from Marty Dinsdale then eluded Miller, and his second of the game put the Rush up 13-7.
The fourth quarter opened with Ryan Keenan ending off some well-timed passing around the offensive zone with a one-timer on the power play. Robert Church, the league's leading power-play goal-scorer for two straight seasons who had scored on the man-advantage in the first quarter, sent a long shot to the back of the net as the Rush struck for a second time during a delayed penalty call. McIntosh rounded out the Rush scoring with two more goals - his second giving Saskatchewan its fourth power-play goal of the game and his fifth of the night coming on Shattler's sixth assist.
Saskatchewan opened the game with goals coming only seven seconds apart, leading off with McIntosh on the man-advantage and followed on the ensuing faceoff when Knight finished off a 2-on-1 setup from Adrian Sorichetti. It was a standout quarter for Sorichetti, who followed later in the period with an excellent pass to Church who found the net after sneaking behind the Toronto defenders, and just 42 seconds later, Sorichetti sent a rocket right through Rock starting goalie Nick Rose.
Church's power-play tally sent the Rush in the right to start the second quarter. Matthews left his mark on the night before playing sparingly in the second half due to an injury. The lanky Rush offensive star used all his 6-foot-5 frame to lunge from behind the Toronto net and dunk the ball under the crossbar past Rose. The highlight-reel tally put the Rush out in front 7-3 and paved the way to another Saskatchewan offensive run. After McIntosh busted by a defender and beat Rose with a shot as he stampeded to the net, Shattler was the beneficiary of a patient effort from Dinsdale, who waited for Shattler to catch up and create a 2-on-1 that the former league MVP finished. Shattler's goal spelled the end of the night for Rose.
At the other end of the floor, it was a fantastic debut for new Rush number-one goalie Evan Kirk. The 2016 NLL Goaltender of the Year racked up 39 saves and was particularly sharp when he needed to be in the first half. His best save came late in the second quarter as he threw himself across the crease to rob Reid Reinholdt, who had been looking at a wide-open net from the edge of the crease.
The Rush's offence was a well-rounded effort. Along with the production from McIntosh, Shattler (2 goals, 6 assists), and Keenan (1 goal, 6 assists), the Rush saw several players step up, including Church (3 goals, 3 assists), Knight (2 goals, 3 assists), and Mark Matthews (1 goal, 4 assists).
The Rush will make their season debut in their home-opener on Coop Field at SaskTel Centre on Saturday, December 23rd when they host the New England Black Wolves.
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National Lacrosse League Stories from December 18, 2017
- Rush Rumble Through Rock in 2018 Season Debut - Saskatchewan Rush
- Toronto Loses Home Opener To Saskatchewan - Toronto Rock
- Vancouver Stealth Comeback Falls Short - Vancouver Stealth
- ROUGHNECKS VICTORIOUS IN HOME OPENER - Calgary Roughnecks
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