Saturday, January 14, 2017
ROCK 13 RUSH 11
The Rush trailed 5-0 after the first quarter and 10-2 early in the third quarter before launching a rally that was ignited by six goals in the third including four power-play markers. But Saskatchewan couldn’t climb all the way back as the Rock struck for two quick goals late in the fourth that cooled off the Rush.
The two-time defending NLL champions are now 0-2 while Toronto improved to 2-0.
Rush captain Chris Corbeil finally got the Rush offence in gear in the second quarter as his goal put Saskatchewan on the board at 5-1. But the Rush didn’t score again until Mark Matthews blasted by a Rock defender and gunned in a shot with 29 seconds left in the first half to make it 8-2 Toronto.
Toronto, which had scored 10 seconds into the opening quarter and twice on its first three shots, scored only 19 seconds into the third quarter and then again on a five-minute power play to jump ahead 10-2. The Rush then started to chip away at the Rock through their own man-advantage. Adam Jones whipped in a shot from the slot to make it 10-3, and Robert Church followed with power-play goals just over two minutes apart. Church first put a bounce shot through the legs of Toronto goalie Nick Rose who was without his stick, and then whizzed a sidearm shot inside the post.
Rush rookie Mike Messenger surprised the Toronto defence by driving hard to the net and going airborne before tucking the ball in to make it 11-6. Church buried a shot on another Rush power play for his hat trick, and Curtis Knight caught Rose off-guard with the shot clock expiring as his low shot slipped by the post to get the Rush to 11-8.
Saskatchewan’s rally continued in the fourth when Marty Dinsdale beat Rose in tight, and then Matthews dangled past the Toronto goalie and went high to get the Rush to within one at 11-10. Toronto, though, bounced back and held a 13-10 cushion until Ryan Keenan got the Rush a bit closer when he smartly scooped a rebound into the net with 41 seconds to go. Two late chances for the Rush were turned aside by Rose, who finished with 34 saves.
Rush goalie Aaron Bold, playing in his first action of the season after missing last week due to a suspension, managed 36 saves. Church counted five points (3 goals, 2 assists) while Matthews collected seven points (2 goals, 5 assists).
Saskatchewan unveils its 2016 Champion’s Cup banner next Saturday in its home-opener at SaskTel Centre against the Rochester Knighthawks.