The Saskatchewan Rush continue to be the NLL version of the Road Warriors.
Ryan Keenan, Ben McIntosh, and Jeff Shattler all notched hat tricks while Mark Matthews collected nine points on a goal and eight assists as the Rush thumped the Philadelphia Wings 15-10 on Saturday night. The Rush maintain their spot atop the NLL’s West Division with a 6-2 overall record and now boast a 5-0 record on the road. Their current three-game winning streak has also seen them knock off the North and East Division leaders on back-to-back weekends, first with last Saturday’s overtime win in Halifax and then the decisive victory in Philadelphia.
The Rush kept a steady flow of offence going the whole night, but two important runs really kept the home side from gaining back any momentum. Ryan Keenan rolled off a defender’s check and buried a shot to tie the game 3-3 and then Matthews scored with 1:09 to go in the first quarter to put the Rush up one. The Rush turned it into a five-goal run as they added three straight to begin the second quarter, led off with Shattler burying a quick-stick finish off a cross-crease pass from McIntosh.
Shattler then turned playmaker as he set up Robert Church for a power-play snipe, and McIntosh followed with his second going top corner with a shot that spelled the end of night for Wings goalie Zach Higgins. The Wings answered with two in a row, but McIntosh, who went to college at Drexel University in Philadelphia, collected his hat trick to make it 8-5 before halftime as he curled into the slot and zipped a perfectly placed shot to the top of the net.
Keenan put away his hat-trick tally early in the third – a goal that also got him to the 200-point plateau for his NLL career – and Shattler put another quick-stick finish home off a slick pass from Matthews just 55 seconds later to make it 10-5. The Wings got a pair of goals back again, but the Rush extinguished that rally when Shattler got his hat trick done, getting into open space at the top of the slot and then wiring a shot to the top shelf.
Philadelphia did get within two in the fourth quarter, but two of the Rush’s rising talents put down any thoughts of a comeback. Connor Robinson, the Rush’s first-round pick in 2018, made it 12-9 with Church drawing an assist to give him 300 career helpers, and less than three minutes later, Austin Murphy earned his first career NLL goal with a terrific individual effort. The 2017 fourth-round pick used a hockey-style toe-drag move to beat his defender and then slipped a deft underhand shot past Miller.
Rush captain Chris Corbeil added an empty-netter and Church, who also played at Drexel University with McIntosh, counted a late power-play goal to round out the Rush scoring. McIntosh, who now makes his home in Philadelphia, finished with six points, while Evan Kirk picked up the win with a 40-save effort.
The Rush are back on Co-Op Field at SaskTel Centre on Saturday, February 29th when they host the Toronto Rock.