Rush vs. Swarm Game Notes
Saskatchewan Rush (13-3) vs. Georgia Swarm (8-7)
7:30PM (CST), April 14th 2018
SaskTel Centre, Saskatoon SK
Listen: 98 COOL
The Saskatchewan Rush will go in search of a third straight win and a season-series sweep of the defending Champion's Cup title-holders, the Georgia Swam tonight at SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon.
Last night in Vancouver, Mark Matthews racked up 10 points, Ben McIntosh scored five goals while Robert Church and Marty Dinsdale each scored four times as the Rush blasted the Vancouver Stealth 20-10 to complete a four-game season-series sweep and remain unbeaten at 9-0 against West Division foes.
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.
Meanwhile, 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.
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 be 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, winning 18-10 at home. 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 9 assists over the final two 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. Swarm - Season-by-Season Glance
13-9 Rush win (Robert Church totals six points with three goals and three assists)
*15-14 Swarm OT win (Myles Thompson and Shayne Jackson both with six-point games)
*18-14 Swarm win (Jordan Hall nets five goals and adds three assists)
18-10 Swarm win (Myles & Lyle Thompson combine for 13 points)
*Denotes playoff game
14-8 Rush win (Mark Matthews scored four goals and added four assists for eight points)
16-12 Rush win (Robert Church with a seven-point game including a hat trick)
14-10 Swarm win (Callum Crawford registers eight points including five assists)
14-9 Rush win (Jeremy Thompson scores hat trick plus team record 19 loose balls)
14-8 Rush win (Zack Greer scores hat trick and adds two assists)
13-8 Swarm win (Ryan Benesch racks up seven points including six assists)
*15-3 Rush win (Ryan Ward registers seven-point game including hat trick)
9-8 Rush OT win (Zack Greer notches hat trick)
10-9 Swarm OT win (Ryan Benesch scores game-winner in second-longest NLL game)
*Denotes playoff game
14-13 Rush win (Zack Greer pots five goals including game-winner)
9-8 Swarm win (Ryan Benesch notches five points including four assists)
16-14 Rush win (Ryan Ward scores twice and adds five assists)
13-12 Rush OT win (Brodie Merrill scores three times including game-winner)
9-7 Swarm win (Aaron Wilson scores two goals and added one assist)
7-6 Swarm win (Nick Patterson makes 40 saves in the victory)
Images from this story
Saskatchewan Rush vs. the Georgia Swarm
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