EDMONTON - The Edmonton Rush have been waiting since 2011 to win three games in a row.
And that wait just got longer following a 13-8 loss to the Minnesota Swarm Friday.
The 6,292 in the stands at Rexall Place witnessed the Swarm earn a measure of revenge following a 15-3 embarrassment they suffered at the hands of the Rush in last year’s West Division final, as the Rush were held to just two goals in the second half.
“If our guys aren’t pissed off about that then we’ve got issues because we just didn’t battle (Friday) night,” said Rush head coach and GM Derek Keenan, whose squad is in St. Paul, Minn., on Sunday to close out the home-and-away series (1 p.m., NLL Network on YouTube). “Just not enough, anyway.
“They were hooting and hollering on our floor and that’s unacceptable. We’ve got to be ready on Sunday.”
But Keenan wasn’t buying the revenge angle from last year’s lop-sided playoff victory that sent the Rush to their first Champion’s Cup appearance.
“Nah, that was a long time ago. I don’t think so,” Keenan said. “We’ve got new players, they’ve got new players. It’s long gone.”
But not forgotten.
“That game last year was just an off night. Those happen, it just happened at the worst possible time,” said Swarm leading scorer Callum Crawford, who returned from a hamstring injury that kept him out last weekend.
“We wanted to show that we could play with these guys. They are just as good if not better than they were last year. We were able to take it to them tonight and it felt pretty good.”
Edmonton was coming in off back-to-back victories over the Washington Stealth and Colorado Mammoth last weekend, looking for their third-straight and reset their record to .500 following a 1-4 start.
After scoring 11 goals and 13 points to become the NLL’s leading goal scorer, Rush rookie Mark Matthews was held to a single goal.
“Their goalie did a good job of shutting him down because he had seven or eight glorious chances, you’d think he’s going to bury half of them,” Keenan said of Evan Kirk, who stopped 42 of 50 shots. “Their goalie played great, but if that’s the case we need other guys to step up. And they didn’t.
“Aside from Corey Small on offence, we didn’t get much going.”
But it looked like they were about to, taking a 4-2 lead into the second quarter that sent Kirk to the bench in favour of backup Tyler Carlson.
But Kirk returned after Edmonton’s next shot.
Minnesota managed to tie the score at 6-6 heading into halftime on the second of Kiel Matisz’s three goals.
“He’s one of those goalies, he’s real quick,” said Small, who led the way for the Rush with a hat trick and five points. “It seemed like we had him on those first couple shots. He’s been in the league for a year now and he’s a good goalie.
“He might give you a little bit and then take it away, so you’ve really got to read him and what he’s doing.”
With the win, Minnesota (3-4) moved ahead of the Rush (3-5) in the standings.