Rush vs. Stealth Game Notes
Having already locked up first overall in the NLL standings as well as first in the West Division, the Saskatchewan Rush will look to stay on the winning path heading towards the playoffs as they play in a pair of games this weekend.
On Friday, the Rush are in British Columbia to take on the Vancouver Stealth, and then they return home on Saturday night to battle the reigning Champion's Cup title-holders, the Georgia Swarm, at SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon.
Last weekend, the Rush secured first overall in the league standing as well as top spot in the West Division thanks to an 11-8 home-turf victory over the Colorado Mammoth. The Rush will have home-turf advantage for as far as they go in the NLL playoffs, beginning with a guaranteed spot in the West Division Final slated for Thursday, May 10th against either Colorado or Calgary.
Vancouver has already been eliminated from post-season contention, while Georgia is in a dogfight in the East. The Swarm are tied for first with Rochester, but both teams have just a one-game lead over Toronto, Buffalo and New England.
The win over Colorado also kept Saskatchewan's perfect record intact against West Division rivals with an 8-0 record so far this season.
Robert Church paced the Rush attack against Colorado with three goals and four assists, while Mark Matthews also hit for seven points on a goal and six assists. Ben McIntosh and Ryan Keenan each scored twice for Saskatchewan with singles going to Curtis Knight, Jeff Shattler, and Chris Corbeil.
The Rush have won 11 of the last 14 games against Vancouver, including all three meetings so far this season. Saskatchewan will be looking for its fourth season-series sweep against the Stealth, having gone 3-0 in both 2014 and 2015 as well as 2-0 in 2012. The Rush have an all-time record of 21-15 against the Stealth.
Their latest encounter came on March 3rd as Robert Church connected for four goals and four assists, and Mark Matthews collected nine assists in Saskatchewan's 16-10 victory. Marty Dinsdale also had four goals, Jeff Shattler notched three goals and three assists, and Ryan Keenan and Ben McIntosh both scored twice. Dan Dawson also scored in his first game with the Rush, coming to Saskatchewan earlier in the week in trade with Rochester.
Back on February 10th, the Rush jumped out to a 6-0 lead and chased Stealth starting goaltender Eric Penney just 8:32 into the game before going on to win 16-9. Robert Church (3 goals, 5 assists) led the Rush with eight points, while Curtis Knight collected four goals and Ben McIntosh posted a hat trick. Mark Matthews added a pair of goals with Chris Corbeil, Marty Dinsdale, Jeff Shattler, and Matt Hossack each scoring once.
Less than 24 hours after a road win in Colorado, the Rush returned home on February 3rd to top the Stealth 11-9 behind two-goals efforts from Curtis Knight, Robert Church, Ryan Keenan, Mark Matthews, and Ben McIntosh. The Rush's hero of the night, though, was backup goaltender Tyler Carlson who made his first appearance of the season and turned aside the first 10 shots he face before winding up 39 saves.
Saskatchewan put a wrap on last year's season series with a 16-12 win as Mark Matthews managed a hat trick and four assists while Adam Jones fired in four goals. Ryan Keenan and Ben McIntosh each scored twice in the win with Mike Messenger, Jeff Cornwall, Robert Church, Adrian Sorichetti, and Jeremy Thompson adding one apiece.
Prior to that victory, the Rush were stymied by a 55-save performance by Stealth goalie Tye Belanger in a 13-9 loss at Vancouver. Robert Church and Adam Jones each scored twice in that game with singles going to Curtis Knight, Jeff Cornwall, Ryan Keenan, Adrian Sorichetti, and Ben McIntosh. In the first meeting between the teams last season, the Rush got four goals from Robert Church and eight assists from Mark Matthews in a 16-12 win over the Stealth in Saskatoon.
This will be the second meeting of the season for the Rush against the Swarm. The teams met back on January 6th in Georgia with the Rush scoring six goals in the third quarter on their way to a 13-9 victory. Evan Kirk made 41 saves in the Saskatchewan net while Robert Church and Jeff Shattler each posted hat tricks. Adding solo goals for the Rush were Brett Mydske, Jeff Cornwall, Marty Dinsdale, Mark Matthews, Jeremy Thompson, Ben McIntosh, and Matt Hossack.
The Rush hold a 9-7 edge in the all-time regular-season matchups between the teams. The Swarm do hold the advantage when it comes to head-to-head in the playoffs.
Last season's Champion's Cup playoffs began with the Rush and Swarm breezing through their respective division finals - Saskatchewan sweeping Colorado, and Georgia doing the same to Toronto. They then collided in Game 1 of the Cup Final with Georgia coming away with an 18-14 decision on its home turf. The Swarm dominated the game's second half, outscoring the Rush 11-5. Mark Matthews, the leading scorer in the playoffs, along with Adam Jones and Jeremy Thompson each notched hat tricks for the Rush. Curtis Knight and Robert Church both scored twice for Saskatchewan with Ryan Keenan adding a single.
Game 2 in Saskatchewan seemed to going the Rush's ways as they held a late lead but that lead slipped away and the Swarm would go on to get the Cup-winning goals from Miles Thompson 1:14 into overtime to earn a 15-14 victory and the title. Robert Church notched four goals for the Rush in Game 2 of the Final with Adam Jones and Ben McIntosh each adding hat tricks. Ryan Keenan, with a pair, and singles from Jeremy Thompson and Matt Hossack accounted for the rest of Saskatchewan's scoring.
The Swarm also beat the Rush in the only regular-season meeting between the teams in 2017. Playing without suspended forward Ben McIntosh and goaltender Aaron Bold in the season-opener, a beleaguered Rush squad dropped an 18-10 verdict to the Swarm. Mark Matthews, with three, two each from Robert Church and Adam Jones, and singles from Curtis Knight, Ryan Keenan, and Adrian Sorichetti rounded out the scoring for the Rush, who gave up 10 goals in the second half.
The Rush won four of the previous five regular-season games against the Swarm before the 2017 season-opener.
The Rush did beat the Swarm 15-3 in the one-game West Division Final during the 2012 playoffs, sending the Rush to their first appearance in the Champion's Cup Final where they lost the one-game championship to Rochester.
Record Watch: With 68 assists on the year, the Rush's Mark Matthews needs 16 assists over the final three games to beat the current NLL single-season assists record. The current record is jointly held by Shawn Evans, Josh Sanderson, and Callum Crawford.
Statistically Speaking: The Rush's Mark Matthews has moved into first place in the NLL scoring derby as his 94 points puts his three ahead of Buffalo's Dhane Smith. Robert Church of the Rush is right behind with 90 points ... The Rush's Robert Church is just three goals off the league lead. Church has 41 on the year with New England's Kevin Crowley at 44. Ben McIntosh of the Rush is fourth with 37 goals ... Mark Matthews of the Rush leads the NLL with 68 assists with teammate Robert Church in eighth with 49 ... Robert Church, who has led the NLL in power-play goals for two straight seasons, is currently in second with 13, just two behind Colorado's Ryan Benesch. The Rush's Ben McIntosh is tied for third with 12 PPG and Ryan Keenan is tied for fifth at 11. Mark Matthews is tops in the league with 27 power-play assists with Robert Church right behind in a tie for second with 20 ... Saskatchewan continues to boast the NLL's top-ranked power play at 71.4% (50-for-70). Their opponents this weekend have the league's lowest-ranked power play. Georgia is eighth at 35.6% and Vancouver is ninth at 35.3%. Vancouver has given up a league-high 12 shorthanded goals and Georgia is second-worst with 10 shorthanded goals against ... Rush captain Chris Corbeil is tied with multiple players for second in the NLL with two shorthanded goals. Teammates Ryan Dilks and Ben McIntosh are tied for seventh with numerous players with two shorthanded assists ... Saskatchewan's penalty kill is ranked sixth at 50.9% and the Rush have scored seven shorthanded goals. Georgia has the NLL's number-one penalty kill at 54.0% while Vancouver's penalty kill is ranked eighth at 45.8% ... The Rush's Curtis Knight is tied for the league lead with three game-winning goals. Teammates Mark Matthews and Ben McIntosh are tied for fourth with two game-winners ... Veteran Rush defenceman Kyle Rubisch is sixth in the league with 25 caused turnovers ... Rush transition Jeremy Thompson is second in the NLL with 130 loose balls with Kyle Rubisch tied for eighth with 117. Thompson also stands fourth in the NLL with 190 faceoff wins ... Saskatchewan continues to lead the NLL with a team shooting percentage of 20.1%. Individually, Rush captain Chris Corbeil is second at 43.8% (7 goals on 16 shots), Rush transition Adrian Sorichetti is fifth at 38.9% (7 goals on 18 shots) and teammate Jeremy Thompson is ninth at 35.8% (6 goals on 17 shots) ... Reigning NLL scoring champ Lyle Thompson of Georgia is currently in 11th spot with 70 points and he's in fifth for goals with 35 ... 2017: Saskatchewan's Mark Matthews finished second in league scoring last season as he 113 points left him just three behind Georgia's Lyle Thompson. Matthews had 73 assists to lead the league and break his own franchise record ... The Rush's Robert Church cracked the NLL's top-20 scoring last season with 77 points, and for the second straight season, Church led the NLL in power-play goals. After scoring 17 on the man-advantage in 2016, Church notched 21 goals on the power play in last season.
By the Numbers: The Rush's season-long streaks are still intact - Ben McIntosh has scored in 15 straight game while Mark Matthews, Ryan Keenan and Robert Church have earned assists in 15 straight ... Saskatchewan continues to lead the NLL in attendance with an average of 14,619 - a little under 1,000 more than Colorado ... Rush goalie Evan Kirk leads the NLL with 11 wins and a 10.54 goals-against average. He is also tied for second with a .783 save-percentage ... The Rush lead the NLL with 213 goals for and only 160 goals against. They are also tops with 14.20 goals per game average and 10.67 goals against per game average. Vancouver is ranked last in both categories at 10.33 goals scored per game and 14.67 goals allowed per game. Georgia is fifth at 12.20 goals for and sixth at 12.27 goals allowed ... Vancouver has scored a league-low 155 goals and has surrendered a league-high 220 ... The Stealth are second-worst in the league with an average of 17.13 penalty minutes per game. By contrast, the Rush are at 9.67 per game ... The Rush are 8-0 vs. West Division rivals this season and 4-3 versus foes from the East. Vancouver is 1-9 vs. the West, and Georgia is 2-3 vs. the West ... The Rush are 12-1 on the year when leading at halftime and 11-1 when leading after three quarters. They are also 10-0 when they outshoot their opposition ... Vancouver is 1-9 when trailing after the first quarter and 0-10 when trailing at halftime ... Georgia is 7-3 when leading at halftime but 1-4 when trailing at halftime ... Saskatchewan has outscored its opposition 55-26 in first-quarter action and 59-38 in second-quarter play so far this season ... The Stealth have been outscored 60-31 in first-quarter play ... The Rush's Robert Church is second in the league's Three Star Award voting only three points behind leader Ryan Benesch of Colorado. Church has 25 points (3 x First Star, 3 x Second Star, 1 x Third Star) while Rush teammate Evan Kirk is in sixth with 21 points (3 x First Star, 2 x Second Star) ... 2017: Mark Matthews was named to the NLL's First Team All-Pro following last season, while teammate Mike Messenger earned a spot on the All-Rookie Team. Messenger finished tied for fourth in defence scoring last season and led all rookies in penalty minutes.
Rush vs. Stealth - Season-by-Season Glance
16-10 Rush win (Robert Church racks up eight points on four goals and four assists)
16-9 Rush win (Robert Church collects eight points including a hat trick)
11-9 Rush win (Robert Church scores twice and adds five assists for seven-point game)
16-12 Rush win (Mark Matthews tops scoring with hat trick and four assists)
13-9 Stealth win (Tye Belanger makes 55 saves)
16-12 Rush win (Robert Church racks up four goals and Mark Matthews chips in eight assists)
14-12 Stealth win (Logan Schuss and Joel McCready each scored four goals)
24-16 Rush win (Zack Greer records career-high 11 points including five goals)
13-11 Stealth win (Corey Small fires in five goals against his former team)
17-10 Rush win (Robert Church racks up nine points with five goals and four assists)
15-14 OT Rush win (Zack Greer scored four goals including overtime game-winner)
19-7 Rush win (Mark Matthews and Tyler Melnyk both score four goals)
10-5 Rush win (Aaron Bold totals 40 saves for the victory)
10-9 Rush win (Robert Church notches hat trick)
9-8 Rush win (Curtis Knight, Zack Greer, & Mark Matthews each score two goals)
*12-11 Stealth win (Rhys Duch notches four goals and two assists)
15-10 Rush win (Mark Matthews registers 'sock trick' with six goals)
12-10 Stealth win (Rhys Duch collects two goals and two assists)
18-10 Rush win (Mark Matthews ties team record with nine points)
*denotes playoff game - West Division Semifinal
10-9 Rush win (Zack Greer paces Rush with four goals)
16-5 Rush win (Corey Small ties team record with nine-point game)
14-12 Rush win (Scott Evans scores one goal and adds seven loose balls)
15-14 Rush win (Corey Small notches three goals and three assists)
18-10 Stealth win (Lewis Ratcliff racks up nine points including four goals)
*12-11 Stealth OT win (Paul Rabil notches game-winner eight seconds into OT)
15-7 Stealth win (Lewis Ratcliff scores twice and adds five assists)
14-13 Rush OT win (Gavin Prout connects for seven points including three goals)
14-13 Rush win (Ryan Ward leads the way with four goals)
*denotes playoff game - West Division Final
16-6 Stealth win (Cam Sedgwick scores four goals and adds two assists)
11-10 Stealth win (Jeff Zywicki racks up seven points including three goals)
11-8 Stealth win (Colin Doyle notches four goals and adds two assists)
12-5 Rush win (Jimmy Quinlan picks up the hat trick)
14-6 Stealth win (Colin Doyle chips in four assists)
11-9 Stealth win (Jeff Zywicki counts five points including three goals)
14-7 Stealth win (Jeff Zywicki notches nine-point game including five goals)
9-8 Stealth win (Colin Doyle paces attack with five points)
10-9 Stealth OT win (Jeff Zywicki scores three goals including game-winner)
12-11 Stealth win (Jeff Zywicki picks up hat trick plus two assists)
Saskatchewan Rush (12-3) vs. Vancouver Stealth (2-13)
8:30PM (CST), April 13th 2018
Langley Events Centre, Langley BC
Watch: NLL TV, SaskTel maxTV Ch. 49/349
Listen: 98 COOL
Official Viewing Party: Shoeless Joe's
Images from this story
Saskatchewan Rush vs. the Vancouver Stealth
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