It was 80s Night at the SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon on Saturday night as the Saskatchewan Rush took a blast from the past.
The Rush defeated the Colorado Mammoth 9-7, getting revenge on the beat-down they took three weeks ago from that very same Mammoth team. It is also the Rush’s first home victory since the end of last season.
This was also the Rush’s first game after having three weeks off.
“It’s always a grind against these guys, but we addressed a lot of things during our time off,” said Rush head coach and general manager Derek Keenan.
“It’s been three weeks since we played a game and the one thing that was really clear was a lot of self-reflection and reflection of individuals and a group.”
The win puts the Rush a game and a half ahead of the Calgary Roughnecks for first place in the West Division with a game in hand.
Players are hoping the early bye weeks will give them momentum for the rest of the season.
“I think we have five bye weekends in 10 weeks and now we can string together 13 games in 12 weeks, so it’s great because we can build momentum early in that long stretch,” said defenceman Jeff Cornwall, who returned to the team this year after missing all of last season.
The win over Colorado also gives the Rush the season series in case of a tie in the standings.
Saturday night was a goaltending duel as Evan Kirk and Dillon Ward went save-for-save with Kirk allowing only seven goals on 39 shots, while Ward stopped 45 of 54 shots including a highlight save in the fourth quarter.
“I said to our guys typically in normal games that’s a 14-12 game. The goaltending was spectacular on both ends,” Keenan said.
Colorado would get on the board first in the opening quarter, with Jacob Ruest finding the back of the net only 33 seconds into the game.
Captain Chris Corbeil would tie up the score, but Chris Wardle would put the Mammoth ahead 2-1 after the first quarter.
Goals from Jeff Shattler and Cornwall would put the Rush up 3-2 early in the second. Eli McLaughlin replied to tie up the game.
A time-out by the Rush in the dying minutes of the second quarter would pay off as Ryan Keenan would score with 18 seconds remaining to give the Rush a 4-3 lead at the half.
Ben McIntosh would give the Rush a two-goal cushion 1:54 into the third quarter. The Mammoth would come roaring back with goals from Ryan Lee and Joey Cupido to knot the game up at 5-5 after three.
Matt Hossack and McLaughlin would exchange goals before the Rush would go on a two-goal run with Keenan and Shattler finding the back of the net.
While McLaughlin would bring the score to 8-7, McIntosh would score at 9:58 to round out the scoring.
Ben McIntosh (2g, 2a)
Robert Church (4a)
Matthew Dinsdale (3a)
Eli McLaughlin (3g, 2a)
Ryan Lee (1g, 2a)
Chris Wardle (1g, 1a)
Jacob Ruest (1g, 1a)
Josh Sullivan (2a)
Dylan Kinnear (2a)