Ben McIntosh broke out of his early-season slump in a big way as his four-goal effort teamed up with another polished performance from goaltender Evan Kirk to push the Saskatchewan Rush to a 12-9 victory over the San Diego Seals on Sunday afternoon.
The win was the Rush’s third on the road this season and third time they have held their opposition to under 10 goals. Saskatchewan (3-1) never trailed and scored three power-play goals.
McIntosh entered the game with just two goals on the season, but the Rush forward had a knack for finding the net last year against San Diego as he collected 14 goals in three games against the Seals.
Once again, McIntosh torched the Seals (1-4). He scored his team’s final goal in each of the first three quarters and the Rush’s lone goal of a defensive-minded fourth frame.
“It kind of works that way with our offence,” said McIntosh. “It can be any one of us on any given night and tonight it was me. It hasn’t been me any other game this year, so it was nice to get it going.”
The Rush opened up with the game’s first three goals, including a pair from Marty Dinsdale, before McIntosh made it 4-1 late in the first as he finished some slick passing by taking a feed from Mark Matthews, driving to the net and beating Seals goalie Frank Scigliano on the short side.
San Diego found some offence of its own in the second quarter and trailed 5-4 until Ryan Keenan struck on a power play with a low heater that went in. Only 27 seconds later, McIntosh fired a low shot in from the wing to put the Rush ahead 7-4.
The Seals closed to within one at 7-6 early in the third quarter, but the Rush turned the tide for good with a three-goal run. Rush captain Chris Corbeil extended the lead as he fought for a loose ball in the defensive zone, took off on a breakaway and tucked a low shot in. Just 65 seconds later, Jeff Shattler was left all alone in the slot and he buried a shot to make it 9-6. Less than two minutes after that, Matthews went on a run in the open and fired a rocket home.
McIntosh completed his hat trick before the third quarter was done as he positioned himself at the side of the net and quick-sticked a feed from Shattler for a power-play tally.
The fourth goal of the night for McIntosh was a beauty. Stationed behind the Seals net, McIntosh latched onto a pass from Robert Church and went airborne, putting his backhand diving shot into the top corner for Saskatchewan’s third power-play strike of the night.
Jeff Cornwall, who returned to the Rush lineup after missing the last game, had Saskatchewan’s other goal as he finished a transition opportunity by taking a flip-back pass from brother Travis and lasering a shot inside the post.
Matthews (1 goal, 5 assists) registered his second consecutive six-point game.
Kirk, who held New York to just four goals in his last outing, was sharp right from the start as he stopped three San Diego breakaways in the first half. The Rush netminder, who came into the game ranked second in the NLL in goals-against average and third in save-percentage, totaled 43 saves.
“If our defence gives him the chance to see the shots, he tracks the ball very well and he’ll make the saves for us most of the time,” said Rush GM/Head Coach Derek Keenan.
The Rush return to Co-Op Field at SaskTel Centre this coming Saturday for the first of two straight home-turf tilts against the Colorado Mammoth.