Shawn Slaght, All Lacrosse All The Time – A Division of The Edge of Philly Sports Network
The Saskatchewan Rush welcomed the Las Vegas Desert Dogs to the SaskTel Centre for the first time ever on Saturday night and walked away with a 15-10 victory.
The Rush got a huge boost on defense. Before the game, captain Ryan Dilks was listed as questionable as he was dealing with an injury. Come game time, he was good to go.
Mark Matthews ended up having a huge night with 12 points including four goals. Robert Church found the back of the net with five goals en route to an eight-point night.
One of the stories of the game was about the Rush’s first-round draft pick Austin Madronic. He scored his first career NLL hat trick in the first half.
“It sucks when you’re doing the little things and not getting it, so to get three tonight was pretty awesome for him,” Matthews said of his young teammate.
Las Vegas takes the early lead
Saskatchewan got off to a quick start 1:32 into the game. Madronic picked up a rebound off of Church’s shot and buried it to make it 1-0.
Former Rush player Zack Greer tied it up with 7:20 on the clock on the power play. The Desert Dogs took the lead with 5:13 left when Jack Hannah scored shorthanded.
It didn’t take long for the Rush to tie it up as Church’s shot through traffic found the back of the net at 4:46 on the power play.
Greer continued to burn his old team as he scored at 2:55 to make it 3-2 Las Vegas after the first quarter.
Huge second quarter for the Rush
Las Vegas extended its lead to 4-2 only nine seconds into the quarter. Connor Kirst picked up a loose ball off the draw and scored on the breakaway.
After that, the Rush would go on an eight-goal run and outscore the Desert Dogs 8-2 for the remainder of the quarter.
“For a little while there, we were a little bit frantic early in the game, but I asked the guys to just stick with it and believe in themselves and so our offense started rolling. We made enough plays and we were good when we needed to be,” said Rush head coach Jimmy Quinlan.
Ryan Keenan started it off at 13:58. Holden Garlent found him at the side of the net on transition and Keenan buried it home.
Twenty seconds later, Keenan would find Church streaking down the wing to tie it 4-4. Madronic scored with a shot between two defenders at 12:45 for the go-ahead goal. Church would follow that up by ripping a shot into the back of the net at 11:21.
Matthews scored his first of the game at 10:43 with an outside shot that found the corner of the next. Matthews followed that up 22 seconds later scoring from nearly the exact same spot on the floor, going between Landon Kells’ legs.
Madronic scored his first NLL hat trick at 7:33 to give the Rush a 9-4 lead. Marty Dinsdale rounded out the run was a low shot that got by Kells with 2:34 left in the half.
Charlie Bertrand stopped the bleeding 31 seconds later to make it 10-5. Jacob Ruest would round out the scoring to make it 10-6 for the Rush at the half.
Rush keeps the Desert Dogs at bay in the third
Rob Hellyer finally found the back of the net for Las Vegas at 11:41 of the third quarter to make it 10-7. The Desert Dogs gained some momentum as Jon Phillips would score at 11:19 to get Vegas within two.
Church would score at 10:53, cutting to the net for the goal to make it 11-8 for the Rush.
Matthew scored on a side-angle shot at 3:41 to make it 12-8 after three quarters of play.
Saskatchewan finishes off Vegas
Church scored his fifth of the game 1:08 into the fourth quarter to make it 13-8. He faked three shots while heading to the net to score the power play marker after a five-minute major to Greer for elbowing.
Bertrand would get Vegas back on the board at 12:30 with a shot that would sneak between Buque’s legs.
The defenses held strong until the 3:19 mark. Marshall Powless with a bunch of time and spacer found the back of the net to make it 14-9.
Phillips sent a floater into the top corner at 2:15 to make it 14-10, but it was Mark Matthews that put the game away to 1:42 to make the final 15-10.
Rush head coach Jimmy Quinlan spoke to the media after the game.
Mark Matthews commented on his team’s victory over the Desert Dogs.
Mark Matthews, 4g 8a
Robert Church, 5g 3a
Ryan Keenan, 1g 5a
Rob Hellyer, 1g 4a
Jacob Ruest, 1g 3a
Jack Hannah, 1g 3a
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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.