Edmonton, AB--- With two straight wins under their belts, the Edmonton Rush will look to extend their winning streak during a National Lacrosse League home-and-away weekend series against the Minnesota Swarm.
The Rush will host the Swarm Friday night at Rexall Place before the two teams complete their season series in short order with a return engagement Sunday afternoon in St. Paul, Minnesota.
The Rush are coming off a huge weekend as they ended a two-game losing streak by storming past a pair of divisional foes. Edmonton finally picked up its first home-turf win of the season last Friday night as the Rush topped Washington 15-10, and the Rush completed a triumphant weekend by crushing the Colorado Mammoth 14-7 in Denver on Saturday night.
Rookie sensation Mark Matthews was the driving force behind the two wins for the Rush as he totalled 11 goals in the two games including a “sock trick” (lacrosse’s reference for a six-goal game) against Washington. With his offensive assault, Matthews now leads the National Lacrosse League with 23 goals and is fifth in points with 38. He also picked up the NLL's Offensive Player of the Week honors - his second weekly award of the season following up on a Rookie of the Week recognition.
With the back-to-back victories, the Rush moved into third place in the NLL’s West Division, and the defending divisional champs are just one-half game behind second-place Washington and 1½ games behind Calgary. Edmonton has one game in-hand on both the Stealth and Roughnecks. Minnesota’s loss to Calgary last weekend left the Swarm tied with Colorado for fourth in the West.
This will be the first meeting between the Rush and Swarm since they clashed for the West Division title in the Champion’s Cup playoffs this past spring. After four straight one-goal games in regular-season play, the Rush pounded the Swarm 15-3 in the West Division final and advanced to the franchise’s first appearance in the Champion’s Cup NLL final. The matchup was essentially over by halftime as Edmonton had built up an 11-1 lead at the break. Ryan Ward led the Rush’s offensive outbreak against his former team as he picked up four goals and three assists, while Corey Small chipped in three goals and two helpers. Aaron Wilson, with a hat trick, Zack Greer, with a pair, and singles from Shawn Williams, Ryan Dilks, and Derek Suddons finished off the Rush scoring, while at the other end of the turf, Aaron Bold ensured a lopsided win by making 39 saves.
Edmonton and Minnesota are even at 4-4 in all-time regular-season play with three of the games being decided in overtime including the second-longest game in NLL history which went the Swarm’s way last season. Ryan Benesch finally ended the encounter and gave the Swarm a 10-9 win when he scored his hat trick goal at 12:23 of overtime.
But former Swarm star Aaron Wilson came back to burn his former club when the teams met in their second matchup this season. Wilson, who came to the Rush in an off-season trade with Minnesota, scored on a brilliant individual effort just 1:57 into overtime to give Edmonton a 9-8 victory at Rexall Place. Edmonton had posted an 8-4 lead by halftime of that game on a hat trick by Zack Greer, Wilson’s first of the night, and singles from Corey Small, Ryan Ward, Shawn Williams, and Jimmy Quinlan.
The Rush took the only multi-game season sweep against the Swarm back in 2010 as they took both ends of a home-and-home series one weekend. Ryan Ward came up big against his former club with a seven-point game as the Rush earned a 16-14 win at Rexall Place. In the return match, Brodie Merrill capped a furious Rush comeback with the overtime winner as Edmonton notched a 13-12 win. Edmonton trailed 11-6 heading into the fourth quarter but rallied to force overtime, tying things up with 14 seconds remaining in regulation. Ryan Ward again burned his former club as he racked up six points on three goals and three assists.
Mark Matthews pushed the Rush past Washington last Friday night, a 15-10 result that gave Edmonton its much-needed first home-floor win of the year. Matthews recorded just the second sock trick in Rush history, scoring back-to-back goals in the fourth quarter to reach six goals on the night. He added a goal in each of the first and third quarters plus two in the second stanza including an unassisted marker.
Ryan Ward picked up a six-point night behind two goals and four assists while Craig Conway had a breakout effort with a goal and three assists. Zack Greer, with a pair, Chris Corbeil with a shorthanded marker, Jeff Cornwall, Corey Small, and Jarrett Davis rounded out the Rush scoring. At the other end of the floor, Aaron Bold returned to all-star form by recording 25 saves.
One night later, Matthews, the former Denver University star, returned to his college stomping ground and zipped in five goals as the Rush blew up a tight game with a seven-goal explosion in the fourth quarter to give Edmonton a comfortable 14-7 victory.
Curtis Knight scored twice and added two assists, Corey Small had a goal and four assists, and Craig Conway had his second straight four-point game. Chris Corbeil, Ryan Dilks, Ryan Ward, Alex Turner, and Zack Greer padded Edmonton’s scoring, while Aaron Bold stood tall early and finished with 34 saves.
With 23 goals and 15 assists, Mark Matthews leads the Rush in scoring with 38 points – five up on Ryan Ward who is second in goals with 13 and tied for second with Corey Small at 20 assists. Small is third in goals with 10, with Curtis Knight, Zack Greer, and Jarrett Davis all tied for fourth with seven goals apiece.
Onetime Rush member Ryan Benesch leads the Swarm in scoring with 32 points.