A late fourth-quarter power-play goal stood as the game-winner for the Black Wolves as they held off the Rush to take a 12-11 decision at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. The two teams entered the final quarter deadlocked at 10-10, and the score was kept even just a minute into the final period when Rush goalie Evan Kirk denied Callum Crawford on a penalty shot. But just 30 seconds later, the Wolves jumped ahead as Stephan Leblanc whipped a shot around the Saskatchewan defender and into the far corner behind Kirk.
The Wolves went up 12-10 with 5:12 left and Rush defenceman Brett Mydske in the penalty box as Riley O’Connor notched his fourth goal of the game, popping in a rebound after Kirk stopped Tyler Digby in close. The Rush cut the lead down to one with 1:09 to go on Robert Church’s hat-trick marker, but they were thwarted on one last threat with less than 10 seconds to go in regulation.
“We were flat to start and not very good defensively in the first half,” said Rush GM/head coach Derek Keenan. “I thought we were a lot better defensively in the second half but then our offence went stagnant. They packed the middle and we didn’t respond very well.
“We have to have a more consistent effort, we didn’t have a consistent compete level. We looked like a team that hadn’t played a game yet, so we’ll be better next week.”
The Rush play their home-opener next Saturday and raise their 2018 NLL Cup banner to the rafters of SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon as they host the expansion San Diego Seals.