Rush vs. Bandits Game Notes
Saskatchewan Rush (6-4) vs. Buffalo Bandits (10-3)
Co-op Field at SaskTel Centre | Saskatoon, SK
Tickets | TicketMaster
Watch | B/R Live
Listen | 92.9 The Bull
Official Pre- & Post- Game Viewing Party | Shoeless Joe's Saskatoon
The NLL's top division leaders clash on Saturday night as the West Division-frontrunning Saskatchewan Rush host the league- and East Division-leading Buffalo Bandits.
Saskatchewan comes into the game holding a three-game winning streak. The Rush had a bye last week but their last outing saw them smash the Calgary Roughnecks 15-9. That win has the Rush and San Diego Seals tied for top spot in the West with a one-game lead over Calgary.
Buffalo had a doubleheader last weekend that left the Bandits with a 12-11 overtime victory over Philadelphia, but then their six-game winning streak ended the following night with a home-turf loss to Georgia. The weekend split left the Bandits with a 1 1/2 game lead in the East over Toronto.
The Rush split last season's two games with the Bandits, gaining a measure of revenge on the road after a gut-wrenching home defeat. Saskatchewan let leads of 6-0 after one quarter and 9-3 at halftime slip away and ended up losing a 16-15 decision in overtime on Pat Saunders' game-winner. Ben McIntosh and Robert Church each posted hat tricks in the loss with Mark Matthews, Chris Corbeil and Ryan Keenan adding two goals each. Rounding out the Rush scoring were Mike Messenger, Jeremy Thompson, and Jeff Shattler with a goal apiece.
A return engagement in Buffalo was a different story as the Rush thoroughly dominated on their way to a 16-10 win behind a six-goal sock trick from Robert Church. Mark Matthews posted one goal and eight assists while Mary Dinsdale put up a hat trick. Ryan Keenan, Jeff Shattler and Ben McIntosh each potted two goals and Evan Kirk racked up 42 saves.
The two teams met just once in 2017 with Saskatchewan notching a 17-14 home-turf victory behind hat tricks from Ryan Keenan and Adam Jones. Scoring twice for the Rush were Curtis Knight, Mark Matthews, Adrian Sorichetti and Ben McIntosh with Mike Messenger, Robert Church and Marty Dinsdale adding a goal apiece. That game was the first since the Rush and Bandits collided in the 2016 Champion's Cup Final with the Rush winning the second straight league title with a stunning two-game sweep in the best-of-three series.
The Rush won Game 1 of the series by taking an 11-9 verdict a week earlier in Buffalo. Saskatchewan got goals from Robert Church, Ben McIntosh, and Zack Greer in the fourth quarter, and then the Rush played strong defence late to halt any threat of a comeback by the Bandits. Church, McIntosh, Greer, and Mark Matthews each scored twice for the Rush with singles going to Adrian Sorichetti, Jarrett Davis, and Jeff Cornwall. Saskatchewan claimed the Cup in Game 2 which came down to the very last moments with Rush transition Jeff Cornwall scoring the game-winning and series-clinching goal on a breakaway with just two seconds left in regulation time to give Saskatchewan an 11-10 victory before a sold-out crowd of more than 15,100 at SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon. Robert Church, Curtis Knight, Mark Matthews, Ben McIntosh, and Zack Greer each scored twice for the Rush.
WELL, HELLO: This game marks the debut of defenceman Scott Campbell in the Rush lineup. The 15-year veteran defenceman was acquired by Saskatchewan in a trade with Rochester on Monday. The Rush gave up a second-round pick in 2022 and a conditional second-round pick in 2021. Campbell had the best offensive numbers of his career just last season as he notched six goals and 14 assists for 20 points.
MEMORY LANE: The Rush are 6-4 all time in regular-season action against Buffalo even though the Bandits have won three of the last five matchups. However, Saskatchewan's holds the biggest edge, that being the 2016 NLL final when the Rush captured the best-of-three series in two straight. Two of the Bandits' most-recent wins over the Rush were in overtime - the 16-15 comeback in 2018 and the 19-18 shootout in 2016. The Rush had a glorious chance to win that game in regulation after Robert Church tied it with 35 seconds left. Just 12 seconds later, Church was awarded a penalty shot but was denied on the opportunity.
Statistically Speaking: The Rush's Jeff Shattler has the game-winner in each matchup during the team's current three-game winning streak and he leads the NLL with four game-winning goals ... Mark Matthews leads the Rush and is 11th in the league with 56 points. Matthews is also tied for 10th with 34 assists ... Ben McIntosh and Mark Matthews are tied for the team lead and for 12th in the NLL with 22 goals ... The Rush continue to boast the NLL's number-one ranked power play sitting at 66.7% (20-for-30). Ben McIntosh is tied for seventh with six power-play goals and Mark Matthews is tied for third in power-play assists with 12 ... Buffalo's power play is ranked third at 48.7% (36-for-74). Former Rush Corey Small leads the NLL with 11 power-play goals with teammate Shawn Evans right behind with 10. Dhane Smith of the Bandits leads the NLL with 17 power-play assists ... Saskatchewan's penalty kill remains in 11th place at 45.0%, but the Rush have scored five shorthanded goals. Buffalo's penalty kill is ranked second at 62.5% ... The Rush's Jeff Shattler is tied for second with two shorthanded goals and teammate Matt Hossack is tied for second with two shorthanded assists ... Jeremy Thompson of the Rush leads the NLL with 127 loose ball scoops and is third with 146 faceoff wins ... Rush defenceman Kyle Rubisch is third in the league with 23 caused turnovers ... The Rush's Mike Messenger is tied for seventh in caused turnovers with 18 and is ninth in the NLL in shooting percentage at 35.7% (5 goals on 14 shots). As a team the Rush are third in the league with a shooting percentage of 17.7% ... Buffalo's Dhane Smith is second in the league with 76 points, three up on teammate Shawn Evans. Smith also leads the NLL with 56 assists with Evans in second with 49 ... Steve Priolo of the Bandits leads all NLL defenceman in goals (9), assists (12) and points (21) ... 2018 Regular Season: Rush star Mark Matthews completed the regular season in style as he set a new NLL record for assists in a single season with 84, and captured the league scoring title with 116 points, which also broke his own team record for points in a season. Matthews led the NLL with 33 power-play assists and was tied for the league-lead with three game-winning goals ... The Rush's Robert Church finished second in league scoring with 107 points and tied for second in the league with 47 goals, one up on teammate Ben McIntosh. Church also finished sixth with 60 assists ... Saskatchewan finished the regular season with the top-ranked power play at 67.8% (59-for-87). Robert Church, Ben McIntosh and Ryan Keenan all tied for third in the league with 14 power-play goals, and Church also finished second with 27 power-play assists ... Rush goalie Evan Kirk led the league with 12 wins and finished with the second-best goals-against average at 10.82. He also had the fourth-best save-percentage at .777.
By the Numbers: Heading into the finale of a three-game homestand, the Rush lead the NLL in average attendance at 13,201 with Colorado in second and Buffalo in third ... Buffalo is 3-0 vs. West Division teams this season while the Rush are currently 1-3 vs. East teams ... The Rush are second in the league with an average 12.70 goals scored per game. Buffalo is first at 14.08 goals scored ... The Rush are fifth in goals allowed per game at 11.60 while the Bandits are second at 11.08 goals allowed per game ... So far this season, the Rush are 5-0 when leading at halftime and 6-0 when leading after three quarters. The Bandits are 8-0 when leading at half and 8-0 when leading after three ... The Rush have outscored their opposition 31-25 in fourth-quarter play while the Bandits are stormed out to early leads as they've outscored their opponents 43-27 in first-quarter action ... Six-time NLL Goaltender of the Year Matt Vinc moved from Rochester to Buffalo this season and is back to his all-world form. He leads the league in wins (10) and total saves (513) and is second in both goals-against average (10.61) and save-percentage (.794) ... In Three Star Awards voting, Buffalo's Dhane Smith is second with 21 points (3 x First Star, 1 x Second Star, 3 x Third Star) with teammate Shawn Evans right behind with 19 points (2 x First Star, 3 x Second Star). The Rush's Mark Matthews has 14 points (2 x First Star, 1 x Second Star, 1 x Third Star) ... Buffalo leads the NLL with a total of 181 penalty minutes and a total of 72 minor penalties. Bryce Sweeting of the Bandits is second in the league with 27 penalty minutes while the Rush's Nik Bilic is in seventh with 24 PIM ... 2018 Regular Season: Saskatchewan won the NLL's attendance derby with an average of 14,639 - 458 better than Buffalo ... The Rush led the NLL with 254 goals scored and just 196 goals allowed. Saskatchewan topped the league with 14.11 goals scored per game and 10.89 goals allowed per game. Rochester finished third in both goals scored per game (13.11) and goals allowed per game (11.67) ... Rush defenceman Kyle Rubisch finished seventh with 25 caused turnovers and 10th with 130 loose balls ... Saskatchewan was the only team in the league with three players in the top 10 of the Three Star Award voting. Robert Church was fifth with 26 points (3 x First Star, 3 x Second Star, 2 x Second Star), Mark Matthews was sixth with 24 points (3 x First Star, 2 x Second Star, 3 x Third Star), and Evan Kirk was eighth with 21 points (3 x First Star, 2 x Second Star).
Rush vs. Bandits - Season-by-Season Glance
16-10 Rush win (Robert Church registers sock trick with six goals and Mark Matthews puts up eight assists)
16-15 Bandits OT win (Dhane Smith racks up nine points on four goals and five assists)
17-14 Rush win (Mark Matthews picks up nine points, including seven assists)
*11-10 Rush win (Jeff Cornwall scores the game-winner and series-clinching goal with two seconds left in regulation)
*11-9 Rush win (Robert Church pots two goals plus three assists)
19-18 Bandits OT win (Dhane Smith registers four goals and four assists)
9-8 Bandits win (Ryan Benesch racks up seven points including five goals)
14-5 Rush win (Corey Conway notches eight points including seven assists)
14-7 Rush win (Corey Small potted four goals plus three assists)
11-8 Rush win (Zack Greer scores hat trick including power-play goal)
11-7 Rush win (Ryan Ward ties team record with eight points including four goals)
13-8 Bandits win (Mark Steenhuis and Mike Accursi each notch eight points)
*denotes playoff game
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