Fourth-quarter collapse ends Rush’s playoff hopes

Recap and photos by Shawn Slaght, All Lacrosse All The Time – A Division of the Edge of Philly Sports Network

The Saskatchewan Rush’s playoff hopes came to an end on Saturday night as a fourth-quarter collapse led to a 15-11 loss to the Halifax Thunderbirds.

The loss drops Saskatchewan’s record to 6-10 and they can no longer catch the Colorado Mammoth (9-7) or Panther City Lacrosse Club (10-7) for the final playoff spots in the West Division.

For Halifax, it was a huge win that keeps them in the playoff hunt in the East Division. They improve to 8-8 to pull into a tie for fourth place with the Georgia Swarm. The Philadelphia Wings are nipping at their heels at 7-9, while the third-place Rochester Knighthawks are still within reach at 9-7.

Friday night’s game was particularly heartbreaking for the Rush faithful as Saskatchewan led the entire game heading into the fourth quarter. At the 11:00 mark of the fourth quarter Halifax would go on a five-goal run that would see that lead evaporate.

Buque out, Penney in

Saskatchewan jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead to open the game in a matter of 3:08.

Clark Walter opened the scoring 1:05 into the game. He picked up a rebound off a Robert Church shot and buried it to give the Rush the lead.

Church added one of his own 45 seconds later, weaving through the defence to make it 2-0. Lintner finished off the three-goal run with 11:52 on the clock with a breakaway goal to give the Rush a 3-0 lead.

Halifax finally got on the board at 9:44 as Clarke Petterson scored while falling into the crease to get within two.

Ryan Benesch scored shorthanded on a breakaway with 7:56 on the clock to make the score 3-2. Following the goal, Rush goaltender Alex Buque limped to the bench and didn’t return to the game. Eric Penney, who is returning from injury himself, came on in relief.

An outside shot by Mike Messenger shorthanded put the Rush up 4-2 after the first quarter.

Milestone night for Church

Dawson Theede opened the scoring 1:30 into the second quarter and got Halifax back within one.

They continued to put the pressure on as Holden Garlent was found trailing the play and planted an outside shot at 11:49 to make it 5-3 for the Rush.

Saskatchewan continued to put the pressure on as well as getting great goaltending from Penney in the second quarter. Church scored his second of the game, falling to the floor as he cut to the middle, with 3:23 left to play. It would be Church’s 300th career goal.

Cody Jamieson put a bouncer by Penney with 47 seconds left as the Rush held a 6-4 lead at the half.

Playoff hopes on the line

Halifax opened the scoring in the second half. Benesch let a low shot go that got by Penney 1:45 into the third quarter, yet Saskatchewan still led 6-5.

Walter replied right back less than two minutes later with an awkward angle shot to restore the Rush’s two-point lead.

Petterson would get Halifax back within one with 9:12 left in the quarter before the Rush went on a two-goal run. With a power play opportunity expiring, Church buried a quick stick at 6:18 to make it 8-6. Ryan Barnable tallied a marker on transition, ripping a shot by Hill as the Rush led 9-6 heading into the final frame.

Fourth-quarter collapse

Halifax continued to stay within striking distance 1:20 into the fourth quarter on the power play. Austin Shanks’ shot was stopped by Penney but Benesch buried the rebound to make the score 9-7.

Matthews received an outlet pass from Penney with 12:16 left as the Rush continued to lead by three.

But that’s when the fourth-quarter collapse began. Halifax would go on a five-goal run to complete the comeback. First, Petterson was found all alone in front and scored 4:00 into the quarter. Thirty-one seconds later, Jamieson’s shot on the run got by Penney to narrow the lead to one.

An outside shot by Benesch with 8:22 on the clock would tie the game 10-10. Randy Staats would then give Halifax the lead with 7:42 left.

Twenty-seven seconds later, Penney would misplay a loose ball and Petterson would make him play as Halifax would go up 12-10.

Matthews tried to right the ship at 5:31 with a transition goal to get back within one. It was as close as the Rush would get as Halifax would end off a three-goal run.

Staats and Colton Armstrong would score and Staats would add the empty netter to finish off Saskatchewan’s fourth-quarter collapse and end their playoff hopes.

Top Scorers

Halifax Thunderbirds
Randy Staats, 3g 6a
Clarke Petterson, 4g 2a
Austin Shanks, 6a

Saskatchewan Rush
Mark Matthews, 2g 4a
Robert Church, 3g 2a
Clark Walter, 2g 1a
Ryan Barnable, 1g 2a

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Shawn Slaght
Shawn Slaght

Shawn Slaght has been a sports reporter across the Canadian prairies for over 10 years and has experience covering everything from junior hockey to World Cup skiing to all levels of lacrosse. He is the Saskatchewan correspondent for All Lacrosse All The Time.