Realty One

Friday, March 15, 2019


The NLL’s top division leaders clash on Saturday night as the West Division-frontrunning Saskatchewan Rush host the league– and East Division-leading Buffalo Bandits.

Saskatchewan comes into the game holding a three-game winning streak. The Rush had a bye last week but their last outing saw them smash the Calgary Roughnecks 15-9. That win has the Rush and San Diego Seals tied for top spot in the West with a one-game lead over Calgary.

Buffalo had a doubleheader last weekend that left the Bandits with a 12-11 overtime victory over Philadelphia, but then their six-game winning streak ended the following night with a home-turf loss to Georgia. The weekend split left the Bandits with a 1 1/2 game lead in the East over Toronto.

WELL, HELLO: This game marks the debut of defenceman Scott Campbell in the Rush lineup. The 15-year veteran defenceman was acquired by Saskatchewan in a trade with Rochester on Monday. The Rush gave up a second-round pick in 2022 and a conditional second-round pick in 2021. Campbell had the best offensive numbers of his career just last season as he notched six goals and 14 assists for 20 points.

MEMORY LANE: The Rush are 6-4 all time in regular-season action against Buffalo even though the Bandits have won three of the last five matchups. However, Saskatchewan’s holds the biggest edge, that being the 2016 NLL final when the Rush captured the best-of-three series in two straight. Two of the Bandits’ most-recent wins over the Rush were in overtime - the 16-15 comeback in 2018 and the 19-18 shootout in 2016. The Rush had a glorious chance to win that game in regulation after Robert Church tied it with 35 seconds left. Just 12 seconds later, Church was awarded a penalty shot but was denied on the opportunity.

STATISTICALLY SPEAKING: The Rush’s Jeff Shattler has the game-winner in each matchup during the team’s current three-game winning streak and he leads the NLL with four game-winning goals … Mark Matthews leads the Rush and is 11th in the league with 56 points. Matthews is also tied for 10th with 34 assists … Ben McIntosh and Mark Matthews are tied for the team lead and for 12th in the NLL with 22 goals … The Rush continue to boast the NLL’s number-one ranked power play sitting at 66.7% (20-for-30). Ben McIntosh is tied for seventh with six power-play goals and Mark Matthews is tied for third in power-play assists with 12 … Buffalo’s power play is ranked third at 48.7% (36-for-74). Former Rush Corey Small leads the NLL with 11 power-play goals with teammate Shawn Evans right behind with 10. Dhane Smith of the Bandits leads the NLL with 17 power-play assists … Saskatchewan’s penalty kill remains in 11th place at 45.0%, but the Rush have scored five shorthanded goals. Buffalo’s penalty kill is ranked second at 62.5% … The Rush’s Jeff Shattler is tied for second with two shorthanded goals and teammate Matt Hossack is tied for second with two shorthanded assists … Jeremy Thompson of the Rush leads the NLL with 127 loose ball scoops and is third with 146 faceoff wins … Rush defenceman Kyle Rubisch is third in the league with 23 caused turnovers … The Rush’s Mike Messenger is tied for seventh in caused turnovers with 18 and is ninth in the NLL in shooting percentage at 35.7% (5 goals on 14 shots). As a team the Rush are third in the league with a shooting percentage of 17.7% … Buffalo’s Dhane Smith is second in the league with 76 points, three up on teammate Shawn Evans. Smith also leads the NLL with 56 assists with Evans in second with 49 … Steve Priolo of the Bandits leads all NLL defenceman in goals (9), assists (12) and points (21) … 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 … 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.

(Sask Rush PR)

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