Shawn Slaght, All Lacrosse All The Time – A division of the Edge of Philly Sports Network
The Saskatchewan Rush rang in the New Year at the SaskTel Centre on New Year’s Eve Saturday night with an 11-9 win.
The number one question heading into this game was how healthy would Saskatchewan’s defence be after losing Kyle Rubisch and Ryan Dilks to injuries against San Diego.
The injury report showed Rubisch as questionable, while Dilks was doubtful. Dilks was moved to the Injury reserve list. Meanwhile, Rubisch did suit up on Saturday night and didn’t look hampered at all. He led the team in caused turnovers and eight loose balls. With Dilks out, Isaac Ngyou saw his first action in a Rush uniform.
Panther City got a huge game out of Nick Damude in goal. He stopped 48 of 59 shots in the loss. He robbed Dan Lintner of a goal while the game was tied 3-3 in the second quarter with a highlight reel stop.
Quick start for the Rush
If Panther City was hoping to get the home crowd silenced early it didn’t work as the Rush jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead.
Lintner opened the scoring with 11:49 on the clock taking a quick stick feed from Ryan Keenan. Marty Dinsdale would join the party just over a minute later to make it 2-0. Connor McClelland rounded out the three-goal run at 8:51. Holden Garlent’s transition shot was stopped by Damude, but McClelland was able to bury the rebound.
Panther City clawed their way back late in the first quarter. Phil Caputo put one passed Alex Buque with 3:51 remaining. Cameron Wengrenuik narrowed the lead, as the Rush were ahead 3-2 after the first quarter.
Panther City keeps in close in the second
Rookie sensation for Panther City Mathieu Gautier scored 1:17 into the second frame to tie up the game 3-3 and put pressure on the depleted Rush defense.
Marshall Powless would take a behind-the-back pass from Mark Matthews to bury a goal with 11:52 on the clock to give Saskatchewan a 4-3 lead. Powless would then return the favour, feeding Ryan Keenan for Saskatchewan’s fifth goal of the game.
Robert Church was add to the Rush’s lead at 7:31 to give Saskatchewan a three-goal cushion.
Patrick Dodds would come alive for the Fort Worth squad late in the second quarter. He’d find the back of the net with just over three minutes left in the quarter and again with 21 seconds left to make it 6-5 for the Rush at half time.
Rush hold on to a small lead in the third
Will Malcom came through of Panther City 3:04 into the third quarter to once again tie up the game 6-6.
Saskatchewan’s offense was proving to be just a bit too much. Powless scored with 10:47 on the clock with a “blink and you’ll miss it” quick stick shot to regain the lead. Austin Madronic proved he was worth the first-round pick in this year’s draft for the Rush. He scored at 8:43 and took a punishment in front of the net to get the goal.
Matthews rounded out a three-goal run for the rush with 5:18 left in the quarter to make it 9-6 for the home squad.
However, Panther City would not go away. Matt Hossack would score against his former team with 3:26 left and Liam Byrnes would make it 9-8 heading into the final frame.
Panther City’s comeback falls short
Both teams put on the pressure on early in the fourth quarter looking for the all-important next goal, but no one could beat Buque or Damude.
Dinsdale once again came through with a big goal with 6:41 left to play and it looked like the Rush would cruise in the New Year with the victory.
Not so fast. Nathan Grenon scored just under two minutes later to get Panther City back within one.
It looked as if Keenan may have restored Saskatchewan’s two-goal lead with under two minutes left to play. Keenan’s shot hit Damude, bounced straight up into the air and went across the goal line. With all goals automatically reviewed with under two minutes left in the game, the officials ruled with Keenan fell into the crease before the ball crossed the line. No goal.
Panther City had one last ditch effort by pulling Damude for the extra attacker. However, Mike Messenger found himself on a breakaway with 44 seconds left. He buried it into the empty net to send Saskatchewan into the New Year with a 11-9 win.
Mark Matthews, 1g 5a
Robert Church, 1g 5a
Ryan Keenan, 1g 4a
Will Malcom, 1g 4a
Tony Malcom, 3a
Jonathan Donville, 3a
Mathieu Gautier, 1g 2a