Rush vs. Knighthawks Game Notes
NLL Cup Final Game 3 - Saskatchewan Rush vs. Rochester Knighthawks
(Best-of-three series tied 1-1)
7:30PM (CST), Saturday, June 9th 2018
SaskTel Centre, Saskatoon SK
Watch: Twitter, NLL TV
Listen: 98 COOL
The Saskatchewan Rush and Rochester Knighthawks will meet for one final time this season with the winner claiming the NLL Cup.
Rochester forced the best-of-three championship series to go the distance last weekend with a 13-8 win at home which evened things up at one win apiece.
The Rush are seeking their third league title in the past four seasons, while the Knighthawks are aiming for their first since 2014 and fifth overall. The Toronto Rock lead the way with six NLL championships.
Saskatchewan jumped out to a 2-0 lead in Game 2, but it was the only time they would lead. After evening things at 3-3 just before the first quarter ended, the Rush surrendered five straight goals to the Knighthawks who took control of the game from that point on. Jeff Shattler led the Rush with a six-point effort (3 goals, 3 assists), while Ryan Keenan added a pair of goals, and singles came from Robert Church, Ben McIntosh, and Daw Dawson. Rochester goalie Matt Vinc was the biggest difference-maker in Game 2 as he made 47 saves, including two critical stops late in the third quarter when the Rush were still within striking range for a comeback bid.
The Rush's victory in Game 1 quickly erased the memories of two losses to the Knighthawks during the regular season. Trailing 4-3, the Rush got their offence ignited by Church's natural hat trick that came in total of 3:03 and featured a brilliant individual effort for a game-tying shorthanded marker. Saskatchewan added to their 6-4 halftime lead with four straight goals in 3:39 to open the third quarter, and that seven-goal run was something the Knighthawks could never recover from. Rochester closed the gap to four goals once in the third and twice in the fourth but the visitors were finished for good when Rush defencemen Matt Hossack and Mike Messenger scored 36 seconds apart in the final stanza.
Ryan Keenan notched a hat trick while Ben McIntosh and Jeff Cornwall each scored twice for the Rush with singles being added by Mark Matthews, Marty Dinsdale, and Jeremy Thompson. Evan Kirk, who made a number of sensational saves in the first half, finished with 35 stops.
The NLL Cup matchup brings together two teams that have won five of the last six league titles. Rochester has a total of four NLL titles and are the only team to win three consecutive championships when they were crowned champs in 2012, 2013, and 2014. In 2012, the Knighthawks faced the Rush for the Cup and battled back from a 5-1 deficit at halftime to beat the Rush 9-6. The Knighthawks' reign came to an end the following season which also marked the start of the Rush's two-year run atop the NLL as they won the Cup in 2015 and 2016. Rochester's other championship was earned in 2007, and the Knighthawks also lost in the final in 1999, 2000, and 2003.
Rochester was the only team in the NLL to beat Saskatchewan twice this season, and in the process snapped a nine-game losing streak against the Rush. The Knighthawks had not beaten the Rush in any meeting since the 2012 Cup Final. On their home turf, the Knighthawks outscored the Rush 5-2 in the fourth quarter to register a 16-11 victory. Mark Matthews and Ben McIntosh each posted hat tricks in the loss with singles going to Mike Messenger, Robert Church, Ryan Dilks, Ryan Keenan, and Jeremy Thompson. The defeat also brought to an end Saskatchewan's six-game road winning streak.
Five weeks later, the Knighthawks were able to hold off a late rally by the Rush to rack up a 13-11 win in Saskatoon. Robert Church had four goals for the Rush, while Ben McIntosh had a pair, and Chris Corbeil, Mark Matthews, Jeff Shattler, and Ryan Keenan had one goal apiece.
Saskatchewan handed Rochester two lopsided beatdowns last season, beginning with a 16-8 victory in the Rush's home-opener. The Rush went 6-for-8 on the power play in that game and got an 11-point effort out of Mark Matthews (4 goals, 7 assists). Robert Church and Ben McIntosh each posted hat tricks with singles going to Chris Corbeil, Ryan Dilks, Ryan Keenan, and Marty Dinsdale.
Three weeks later, the Rush blasted the K-Hawks 21-12 in Rochester as Robert Church collected 11 points (4 goals, 7 assists) and Mark Matthews had a 10-point night (4 goals, 6 assists). Curtis Knight, Adam Jones, Marty Dinsdale and Ben McIntosh each scored twice with Mike Messenger, Chris Corbeil, Ryan Dilks, Adrian Sorichetti and Matt Hossack each adding a goal.
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. In 2014, two wins over the Knighthawks helped the Rush establish their record-setting 14-0 start.
The Rush advanced to this year's Cup Final thanks to a 15-13 win over the Calgary Roughnecks in the West Division Final last Sunday, while the Knighthawks went on the road and knocked off the defending champion Georgia Swam 9-8 in the East Division Final.
Statistically Speaking: Robert Church continues to lead the Rush in playoff scoring and is tied for third in the league with 15 points, one back of Rochester's Cody Jamieson. Church is also tied for second in the league with eight goals alongside Rochester's Austin Shanks and Calgary's Dane Dobbie ... Mark Matthews is fifth in playoff scoring with 14 points, one ahead of Joe Resetarits of the Knighthawks. Matthews is second with 11 assists, just one back of Dobbie. Ben McIntosh is at 12 points in the playoffs, tied for seventh with Rochester's Austin Shanks ... The Rush's Mark Matthews leads the NLL playoffs with two game-winning goals ... The Saskatchewan power play is currently at 41.7% (5-for-12) in the playoffs while the penalty kill has stopped eight of 14 man-shortages. Rochester's power play is at 28.6% (4-for-14) but the Knighthawks are tops on the penalty kill at seven kills in 10 shorthanded situations ... Rochester's Cody Jamieson along with Saskatchewan's Ben McIntosh and Ryan Keenan are all tied for the playoff lead with two power-play goals. Mark Matthews of the Rush leads the playoffs with five power-play assists ... 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 ... Rochester's Joe Resetarits finished fourth in league scoring with 100 points and tied for third with 63 assists. His teammate Cody Jamieson tied for eighth in league scoring with 89 points ... 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 ... The Rush finished with the fifth-ranked penalty kill at 52.8% with eight shorthanded goals ... Rochester finished the season with the second-ranked power play at 59.7% but the Knighthawks had the second-worst penalty kill at 48.8% ... 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 ... Knighthawks goalie Matt Vinc, a five-time winner of the Goaltender of the Year award, finished second in the league with a .782 save-percentage ... Saskatchewan finished with a league-best 19.9% shooting percentage. Rush captain Chris Corbeil ranked fourth at 38.9% (7 goals on 18 shots) and fellow transition Adrian Sorichetti was 10th at 31.8% (7 goals on 22 shots).
By the Numbers: Rush defencemen Ryan Dilks and Kyle Rubisch are tied for the playoff lead with seven caused turnovers each. Dilks is also tied for third with 22 loose ball scoops ... Graeme Hossack of the Knighthawks is tops in the NLL playoffs with 42 loose balls with team Jake Withers in second with 36. Withers also leads the NLL with 65 faceoff wins in the post-season ... Thanks to his huge performance in Game 2, Rochester's Matt Vinc leads the NLL playoffs with 190 saves and a stellar .815 save-percentage. Vinc is also second with a 10.76 goals-against average. The Rush's Evan Kirk is second with 108 saves and is ranked third with a 11.49 goals-against average ... 2018 Regular Season: Saskatchewan won the NLL's attendance derby with an average of 14,639 - 458 better than Buffalo. The Rush finished the season 6-3 on their home turf ... 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) ... The Rush's Mark Matthews, Ryan Keenan and Robert Church all finished the regular season with 18-game assist streaks ... Jeremy Thompson of the Rush finished second in the league with 164 loose balls and fourth in faceoff wins with 234 ... Rochester had one of the NLL's best rookie classes in recent memory. Austin Shanks finished second in rookie scoring with 52 points along with first in goals (27) and second in assists (25) as well as first in rookie power-play goals (7). Fellow first-year pro Eric Fannell finished third in rookie scoring with 37 points, while fellow rookie Jake Withers led the entire NLL with 279 faceoff wins and was fifth in loose balls with 148 ... Rush defenceman Kyle Rubisch finished seventh with 25 caused turnovers and 10th with 130 loose balls ... Knighthawks defenceman Graeme Hossack finished first in the league with 34 caused turnovers and wound up third with 163 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) ... The Rush outscored their opposition 62-30 in first-quarter play ... The Rush were 12-2 when leading after the first quarter, 13-1 when leading at halftime, 13-1 when leading after three, and 11-0 when outshooting their opponents ... The Knighthawks were 8-0 when leading at halftime and after three quarters, but they were 0-8 when trailing after three.
Rush vs. Knighthawks -Season-by-Season Glance
*13-8 Knighthawks win (Matt Vinc registers 47 saves and Josh Currier notches four goals)
*16-9 Rush win (Robert Church scores four goals, including natural hat trick in second quarter)
13-10 Knighthawks win (Austin Shanks powers the offence with five goals)
16-11 Knighthawks win (Cody Jamieson registers seven points including a hat trick)
*Denotes playoff game - Champion's Cup Final
21-12 Rush win (Robert Church and Mark Matthews combine for eight goals and 13 assists)
16-8 Rush win (Mark Matthews notches 11 points including four goals)
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)
• Discuss this story on the National Lacrosse League message board...
National Lacrosse League Stories from June 8, 2018
- Rush vs. Knighthawks Game Notes - Saskatchewan Rush
The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.