Saskatchewan Ready To Rush To A Pair Of Games On The Weekend

The Saskatchewan Rush have a long road ahead of them this weekend, literally.

The defending NLL champs, fresh off their bye week will host Calgary tonight at Sasktel Centre (Ball Drop is at 7:30pm on 98 Cool).

The 7-and-3 Rush will look to add to the woes of the Roughnecks who have lost two straight and are in the basement of the West Division.

Following the game Saskatchewan will hop a flight to Denver to play the Colorado Mammoth, who sit second, right behind the Rush.

A win by Keenan’s Crew at home coupled with a Calgary loss on Saturday to New England, OR a Rush win in Denver and Saskatchewan will clinch a play-off spot.

In addition to the contest tonight it’s Lacrosse OUT Bullying night featuring Brett The Hitman Hart.

Here’s are the numbers heading into tonight’s contest:

For the first time during this National Lacrosse League season, the Saskatchewan Rush will embark on a two-game weekend, kicking off on Friday night when they host the arch-rival Calgary Roughnecks at SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon.

The Rush will look to extend their impressive winning streak against the Roughnecks having won seven straight in regular-season action with the streak rising to 10 by including three in a row in the playoffs. Saskatchewan’s busy weekend continues on Saturday night when they travel to Denver to take on the Colorado Mammoth in a showdown between the two best teams in the West Division.

Saskatchewan heads into this weekend currently leading the West by 1½ games over Colorado with three games in-hand. Calgary is last in the West, four games behind the Rush and one back of third-place Vancouver. The Rush are coming off a bye week during which Calgary was stomped 17-6 in Georgia and Colorado topped Toronto 14-11.

The Rush have won two overtime games in a row at home – their last outing being a 12-11 verdict over Colorado. Prior to that, Saskatchewan defeated Calgary 12-11 in overtime.

Calgary remains on top of the all-time regular-season record with a 26-16 mark.

This is the third of four meetings between the Rush and Roughnecks during the ’17 regular season. The two teams will wrap up the regular season on April 29 in Calgary.

Adam Jones was the hero in the Rush’s OT win over Calgary, scoring the game-winner and his second of the night 1:16 into the extra frame on a setup by Jeff Cornwall. Mark Matthews led the Rush with a goal and six assists, while Ben McIntosh and Robert Church each notching hat tricks. Mike Messenger, Jeff Cornwall and Marty Dinsdale also scored for the Rush.

In their first encounter this season back on February 4, the Rush got six points apiece from Ben McIntosh (3 goals, 3 assists) and Robert Church (1 goal, 5 assists) plus 46 saves from Aaron Bold in a 15-11 victory at the Scotiabank Saddledome. Mark Matthews, with four goals, Adam Jones, with two, and singles from Marty Dinsdale, Adrian Sorichetti, Jeremy Thompson, Nik Bilic, and Matt Hossack accounted for the rest of the Rush scoring.

The two teams had met back in December in an exhibition game dubbed the Christmas Showdown, and the Rush topped the Roughnecks 9-6 behind a hat trick from Robert Church. The clash between the Prairie rivals ended with a wild melee including a fight between goaltenders Aaron Bold and Frank Scigliano.

For the first time in franchise history, Saskatchewan swept every game against Calgary last season, going 4-0 in the regular and dispatching the Roughnecks 2-0 in the West Division Final. The Rush moved on to beat the Buffalo Bandits in two straight to win their second consecutive Champion’s Cup title.
In Game 1 of the West Final, the Rush exploded for eight goals in the fourth quarter to pull away and earn a 16-10 win. The Rush broke open an 8-8 tie with three straight goals to start the final period, and then added three more again after a Calgary goal. Ben McIntosh led the Rush offence with four goals as he scored twice in both the second and fourth quarters. The Rush ended the Roughnecks’ season with a 12-9 victory in Game 2 played before a sold-out crowd at SaskTel Centre. Mark Matthews led the Rush offence with two goals and five assists, while goaltender Aaron Bold racked up 39 saves.

The Rush launched their first campaign wearing the Saskatchewan colors in Calgary and captured the season-opener 10-8 victory thanks in large part to three shorthanded goals. Mark Matthews, Robert Church, and Curtis Knight, who was playing in his first game back since missing the entire 2015 season due to injury, each recorded five points.

When the two teams met in a rematch in Saskatoon four weeks later, the Rush totaled a team-record 14 goals in the first half, including eight in the second quarter, en route to a 19-12 victory. Saskatchewan’s offence was virtually a one-man show as Zack Greer racked up seven goals including a team-record six in the second quarter. Greer scored five straight at one point (another franchise high mark), all three coming in less than three minutes with two coming on the power play and another on a penalty shot.

Statistically Speaking: Saskatchewan’s Mark Matthews sits sixth in league scoring with 66 points, just two behind Calgary’s Curtis Dickson, who also leads NLL with 36 goals. Matthews is on top of the league with 44 assists … The Rush’s Robert Church continues to lead the NLL with 14 power-play goals, only three back of his league-leading total for all of last season. Mark Matthews is tied for the NLL lead with 19 power-play assists … Saskatchewan currently has the league’s best power play at 59.3% (32-for-54) but the Rush have surrendered a league-high nine shorthanded goals. Calgary’s power play is ranked fifth at 52.3% (34-for-65) and the Roughnecks have allowed only two shorthanded goals … The Rush’s penalty kill is ranked fifth at 48.0% while Calgary sits fourth at 51.6%. The Roughnecks have scored eight shorthanded goals with the Rush managing just three … The Rush’s Ben McIntosh and Jeff Cornwall are both tied for second in the league with two game-winning goals … Saskatchewan has the second-best shooting percentage in the NLL right now at .180. Georgia is in top at .181 … Rush goalie Aaron Bold is tied for first with seven wins and he is third with a goals-against average of 10.84 … Rush transition Jeremy Thompson is fifth in league with 98 loose ball scoops and he also third in the NLL with 129 faceoff wins … Saskatchewan’s Kyle Rubisch sits fifth in the league with 20 forced turnovers, just three back of first. Teammate Nik Bilic is tied for ninth with 17 forced turnovers.

By the Numbers: Saskatchewan sits atop the NLL in attendance with an average of 14,925—about 800 better than Buffalo … The Rush are 5-1 against the West Division while Calgary is 3-5. Saskatchewan is a perfect 5-0 at home with Calgary set at 2-4 on the road … Saskatchewan and Calgary have gone to overtime nine times in regular-season play. The Roughnecks have won seven of those nine but the Rush have won the last two in a row … The Rush are 5-1 when they lead after the first quarter, 3-0 when leading at halftime, and 5-0 when leading after three quarters. They are also 7-1 when they outshoot their opposition … Calgary is 4-2 when leading after the first and at halftime, but have yet to manage a comeback win this season, going 0-5 when trailing after one, 0-6 when trailing at halftime, and 0-7 when trailing after the third … The Rush are third with an average of 13 goals per game and third with an average of 10 goals allowed per game … … The Rush have given up only 116 goals so far this season, second only to Toronto at 110. The Roughnecks have surrendered a league-high 155 goals … Calgary is averaging 22 penalty minutes per game and a total of 264 penalty minutes, both of which are second in the league. The Roughnecks have also registered a league-high 12 major penalties. The Rush sit fourth with an average of 17.70 PIM per game … Greg Harnett of Calgary is tops in the NLL with 53 PIM … Mike Messenger leads the Rush and all NLL rookies with 36 penalty minutes. He is also tied for the team lead in points by a defencemen alongside Ryan Dilks with eight … The Rush’s Robert Church is currently fifth in the league’s Three Star Awards voting with 16 points (2 x First Star, 2 x Second Star) … Ryan Keenan of the Rush is seventh in rookie scoring with 18 points. He has 13 assists with six of those coming on the power play.