Article and photos by Shawn Slaght, All Lacrosse All The Time – A Division of the Edge of Philly Sports Network
Laine Hruska picked up a historic win for Saskatchewan lacrosse as the Saskatchewan Rush downed the Colorado Mammoth 12-11 in overtime on Saturday night at the SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon.
Hruska, a product of Warman, Saskatchewan, a small town just north of Saskatoon, became for the first-ever Saskatchewan-born goaltender to start and win a National Lacrosse League game for their hometown Rush.
Hruska went save-for-save with one of the best in the lead in Dillon Ward. He stopped 36 of 47 shots in the historic win, while Ward stopped 12 of 49 shots in the loss.
The loss now puts the Mammoth in a difficult position. They will go against San Diego next weekend with third place on the line. If they win, they take over third place from Panther City and will face Calgary in the playoffs. Lose and they stay in fourth and will have to face San Diego again in the post-season.
Rush Take Early Lead
The Rush opened the scoring with 10:16 on the clock. Clark Walter’s sidearm shot beat Dillon Ward to give Saskatchewan the early lead.
Zed Williams tied it up with 4:08 left in the first quarter, but Saskatchewan would reply. Rhys Duch’s shot through traffic went in the back of the net with 19.7 seconds left to make it 2-1 for the Rush at the first break.
Mammoth Keep It Close At The Half
Saskatchewan extended their lead to 3-1. Ryan Keenan picked up the rebound off the post and buried it 3:43 into the second.
Duch struck again less than a minute later to put the Rush up by three.
Colorado clawed back as Dylan Kinnear found Connor Robinson open in front to make it 4-2 at the 9:22 mark.
Right off the ensuing faceoff, Matt Beers picked up the loose ball and picked a corner to restore the three-goal lead.
The Mammoth continued to keep it close. Eli McLaughlin’s high-to-low shot beat Hruska on the power play and, with 3:00 left Williams sent a behind-the-back pass to McLaughlin to make it 5-4.
Saskatchewan looked to go back up by two with 1:38 left. Mike Messenger was on a breakaway and fed Matthews but the call on the field was no-goal because Messenger was in the crease. The call was challenged and overturned to make it 6-4 at the half.
Rush Hold Slim Lead In The Second Half
The Mammoth got within one after McLaughlin dove from behind the net 1:27 into the third quarter on the power play.
Saskatchewan replied right back. Church back peddled before finding Keenan at the side of the net for the quickstick on the power play at 8:28 to make it 7-5.
Church would then go five-hole on Ward first yet another power play marker at 7:36 to put the Rush up 8-5.
With 4:16 on the clock, the Mammoth took an illegal substitution penalty on a breakaway. Church took the penalty shot and made no mistake to make it 9-5.
Off a delayed penalty McLaughlin scored on a quickstick to narrow the lead to two.
Fifty-five seconds later Matthews’ pass deflected off Ryan Barnable and into the net. The call on the field was no goal but was overturned after a challenge by Rush head coach Jimmy Quinlan. The Rush led 10-7 heading into the final frame.
Mammoth force overtime
Colorado opened the fourth quarter scoring 2:31 into the frame when Tyson Gibon’s bounce shot went five-hole to make it 10-8.
Church faked a pass with 7:16 on the clock and took the shot to restore the Rush’s three-goal cushion. However, McLaughlin made it a two-goal game with a shot through traffic with 4:22 left. It would start a three-goal run for the Mammoth.
McLaughlin grabbed a rebound off the end boards with 2:17 left and then his bouncer shot with 51.7 seconds would tie the game 11-11 and force overtime.
Only 1:28 into the overtime period, Church got a pick from Marty Dinsdale that gave him an opening and he beat Ward five-hole for the win.
Robert Church, 4g 2a
Mark Matthews, 1g 5a
Ryan Keenan, 2g 3a
Eli McLaughlin, 7g 1a
Connor Robinson, 1g 5a
Tyson Gibson, 1g 4a
Laine Hruska talked to reporters after the game about how it felt to get that historic first win on home floor:
Robert Church gave his thoughts on the performance of Laine Hruska and his game-winning goal: