Rush vs. Seals Game Notes
Saskatchewan Rush (0-1) vs. San Diego Seals (1-1)
7:30PM | Saturday, January 5th 2019
Co-op Field at SaskTel Centre | Saskatoon, SK
Watch | B/R Live
Listen | 92.9 The Bull
Official Pre-Game and Post-Game Party | Shoeless Joe's
After a season-opening loss in New England, the defending NLL champion Saskatchewan Rush will be out to even their record and capture their first win of the season when they meet the expansion San Diego Seals on Saturday night.
Prior to the start of the game, the Rush will see their 2018 NLL Cup championship banner raised to the rafters of SaskTel Centre joining their banners from 2015 and 2016.
The Rush franchise holds a 5-8 record in home-openers, but the team has won two of its last three wearing the green and black in Saskatchewan. Last year, the Rush launched their championship run by blasting New England 24-11 at SaskTel Centre, and a year earlier, they got things rolling in the right direction with a 16-8 victory over the Rochester Knighthawks. The Rush's only loss in a home-opener in Saskatoon came in their first season in their new home as they dropped a 13-11 decision to the Vancouver Stealth.
This will be the first of three meetings between the Rush and Seals with the next two encounters slated for southern California on March 22nd and April 12th. Although the Seals are embarking on their inaugural season, they have several players on their roster who will be quite familiar to Rush fans. Most recently, the Seals signed former Rush backup goalie Tyler Carlson and he will suit up behind San Diego starter Frank Scigliano, who formerly toiled with Saskatchewan's arch-rival, the Calgary Roughnecks. San Diego's roster also features former Rush fan favorite Adrian Sorichetti, who was acquired in Expansion Draft, along with Dan Dawson, who joined Saskatchewan via a trade late last season, past Rush depth players Tor Reinholdt and Johnny Pearson, and ex-Rush Brodie Merrill, a future Hall of Famer.
The Rush got off to a sluggish start in their season-opening loss and then saw a strong comeback bid fall just short in falling 12-11 to the New England Black Wolves last Friday in Connecticut. Robert Church and Ben McIntosh each netted hat tricks in the loss, while Mark Matthews and Jeff Shattler both scored twice. Marty Dinsdale had the Rush's other goal with Ryan Keenan chipping in seven assists.
San Diego has been busy in the early weeks of the 2019 season, kicking off their inaugural campaign with a stunning 17-12 win on the road against the Colorado Mammoth. Last week, the Seals went on the road against but fell 9-5 in a goaltending duel against the Calgary Roughnecks.
The Rush played just a single exhibition game prior to the start of the 2019 season, but did not a 17-11 victory over the Calgary Roughnecks at SaskTel Centre. Ryan Keenan led the way with four goals with Ben McIntosh and Jeff Shattler each adding hat tricks. The Rush got two goals apiece from Mark Matthews and Marty Dinsdale along with singles from Chris Corbeil, Connor Robinson and Zach Gould.
RUSH HOME-OPENER HISTORY (5-8)
2018: Rush 24, New England 11
2017: Rush 16, Rochester 8
2016: Vancouver 13, Rush 11
2015: Minnesota 14, Rush 10
2014: Rush 17, Colorado 6
2013: Toronto 10, Rush 9
2012: Colorado 13, Rush 12
2011: Calgary 15, Rush 11
2010: Rush 11, Buffalo 7
2009: Portland 11, Rush 10
2008: Toronto 14, Rush 9
2007: Rush 13, Philadelphia 12
2006: San Jose 10, Rush 9 (OT)
Statistically Speaking: Despite not hitting the scoresheet in the goals and assists categories, the Rush's Jeremy Thompson still put some big numbers in the season-opener. Thompson went over the 1,000-mark in loose balls scoops for his Rush career as he nabbed a game-high 18 against the Black Wolves. Thompson also dominated the faceoff dot, going 19-for-26, and combined with Mike Messenger going 1-for-2, the Rush lead the NLL in faceoff win percentage at 76.4% (20-for-28) ... 2018 first-overall draft pick Austin Staats is showing why he was the consensus top pick as he has put up 11 points in the Seals' first two games ... Longtime transition standout Brodie Merrill, who played for the Rush in Edmonton, is seventh in the NLL with 22 loose balls and tied for sixth along with teammate Cameron Holding with four caused turnovers ... 2018 Playoffs: For the third time in his career, the Rush's Mark Matthews finished on top of NLL playoff scoring with 22 points. He also led all playoff performers with 19 assists and two game-winning goals ... Ben McIntosh of the Rush finished in a tie for third in playoff scoring with 18 points and ended up fourth with 10 assists ... Saskatchewan's Robert Church and Jeff Shattler finished tied for fourth with 15 points, but Shattler's efforts over the final two games of the NLL Cup were what garnered him the Playoff MVP award ... 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 ... The Rush finished with the fifth-ranked penalty kill at 52.8% with eight shorthanded goals ... 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 ... Saskatchewan finished with a league-best 19.9% shooting percentage. Rush captain Chris Corbeil ranked fourth at 38.9% (7 goals on 18 shots).
By the Numbers: The Rush power play, which was tops in the NLL a year ago, got off to strong start going 4-for-7 against New England and is currently second in the league at 57.1%. Saskatchewan's penalty kill is ranked first having killed three of four shorthanded situations. San Diego's special teams are off to a good start as well. The Seals have the number-three ranked power play at 50.0% (3-for-6) and they are ranked second on the penalty kill at 66.7% (killed six of nine shorthanded situations) ... The Rush's Mark Matthews, who had eight points in the loss at New England, is tied for fifth in the NLL with three power-play assists ... Ex-Vancouver Stealth Brandon Clelland is 28-for-49 on faceoffs so far for San Diego, while ex-Calgary goalie Frank Scigliano is third in the league with a 10.50 goals-against average ... 2018 Playoffs: Rush goalie Evan Kirk wrapped up the playoffs tied for the league lead in wins with three. He placed second in both minutes played (238) and total saves (145), and was ranked third in save percentage (.767) ... The post-season was a notable one for the Rush's Matt Hossack as he finished tied for second amongst defencemen with five points and was second with two goals. Hossack also placed fourth in shooting percentage at ... 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 ... 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) ... 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.
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