The Edmonton Rush will look for their fourth straight road victory in a rematch of last year’s Champion’s Cup final when they take on the defending National Lacrosse League champion Rochester Knighthawks.
This will be the first meeting between the two teams since the Knighthawks erased a 5-1 deficit at halftime and went on to win the 2012 NLL championship with a 9-6 victory over the Rush. It is the only meeting this season between the playoff rivals, and also marks the first of three straight games for Edmonton against East Division teams. The Rush will wrap up their five-game road trip next weekend with back-to-back meetings in Buffalo and Toronto.
Both the Rush and Knighthawks are coming off bye weekends in the schedule, and both were victorious in their last outings coming in Week 9. The Rush finally ended their frustrating 12-game regular-season losing streak against the Calgary Roughnecks with a dominating 18-13 win at the Saddledome. The K-Hawks also came out on top on the same weekend with a 12-11 verdict in Colorado.
With their monumental win in Calgary, the Rush moved into third spot in the West Division, just one-half game behind Calgary and 1½ games behind Washington, however, Edmonton has a game in-hand on both teams. Although the Rush had topped Calgary in both of the playoff meetings – the West Semifinal in 2010 and 2012 – Edmonton had not beaten the Roughnecks in regular-season play since the 2010 season.
The Rush’s win over Calgary not only put a halt on their losing skid against their provincial rivals, it also was a record-tying and record-breaking performance. Edmonton equaled its franchise-high for goals in a regular-season game by hitting the 18 mark, while Ryan Ward set a new team high for points in a regular-season game as he struck for 10 points on two goals and eight assists. The eight assists also tied a team record for the Rush, most recently established by Shawn Williams last season.
Mark Matthews and Zack Greer both had hat tricks against Calgary with Corey Small and Jarrett Davis adding two goals apiece. Brett Mydske, Kyle Rubisch, Curtis Knight, Alex Turner, Chris Corbeil, and Ryan Dilks rounded out Edmonton’s scoring barrage, while Cory Conway, playing against his former club, racked up four assists.
This is only the fourth regular-season meeting between the Rush and Knighthawks, with Edmonton currently holding a 2-1 margin in all-time encounters. Both of Edmonton’s victories have come in overtime but Rochester won the most-recent regular-season game.
The Rush played host to the Knighthawks in 2008 for their first-ever meeting and came away with a 10-9 overtime win at Rexall Place. Jimmy Quinlan led his team with two goals and three assists, while future Hall of Famer Dan Stroup added two goals for Edmonton. The Rush picked up their second straight OT win over the Knighthawks with a 12-11 victory during the 2010 campaign. Edmonton, which potted the game-winner just 20 seconds into overtime, got two-goal games from both Corey Small and Jimmy Quinlan.
Rochester finally topped Edmonton during the 2011 NLL season, picking up a 13-9 home-floor victory behind a four-goal game from ex-Rush sniper Mike Accursi. Corey Small and Brett Mydske each scored twice for Edmonton in the losing cause.
Despite less-than-stellar regular season performances, the Rush and K-Hawks clawed their way into the 2012 Champion’s Cup final, and it appeared as though Edmonton was on its way to its first league title in franchise history sporting a 5-1 lead at halftime. But the Knighthawks, playing on their home floor, took over in the second half en route to a 9-6 verdict and their third NLL title. Zack Greer led Edmonton in scoring with two goals.
Thanks to his 10-point effort against Calgary, Ryan Ward moved into the team lead and ninth in the NLL with 51 points, five up on Mark Matthews, who sits second on the team and 11th in the league with 46 points. Ward stand fourth in the league with 35 assists, while Matthews is fourth in the league with 28 goals.
Cory Small is second on the Rush with 18 goals, second in assists with 24, and third in points with 42.
Cody Jamieson, who like his Rush counterpart Mark Matthews was a first overall pick in the NLL Entry Draft, leads Rochester with 45 points and sits second in the league with 10 power-play goals.
Rush vs. Knighthawks - Season-by-Season Glance
9-6 Knighthawks win at Rochester (Cody Jamieson racks up eight points including four goals)
13-9 Knighthawks win at Rochester (Mike Accursi scores four goals against former club)
12-11 Rush overtime win at Rochester (Andy Secore completes hat trick with game-winner)
10-9 Rush overtime win at Edmonton (Jimmy Quinlan scores twice and adds three assists)
Three Stars: For the first time in club history, the Rush took three of the four Player of the Week awards handed out by the NLL in the same week. Ryan Ward’s 10-point game (2 goals, 8 assists) against Calgary earned him the Offensive Player the Week award, while Mark Matthews, coming off his second straight Rookie of the Month nod, picked up Rookie of the Week honors for notching three goals and one assist against the Roughnecks. To round out the team’s wares, Kyle Rubisch, the reigning NLL Defender of the Year, was named Defensive Player of the Week as he racked up two points, 11 loose balls, and four forced turnovers.
Statistically Speaking: Two of the league’s best defenses will be going head-to-head. Rochester has allowed a league-low 92 goals while the Rush have given up only 111 goals which is best in the West and tied for third in the league … Goaltending is a big reason why the two teams are so good defensively – Rochester goalie Matt Vinc leads the NLL in both goals-against average (10.08) and save-percentage (.807), while Edmonton’s Aaron Bold is fourth in goals-against average (10.90), fifth in wins (five) and fourth in minutes played (539) … The big difference between the teams is goal-scored on the year. The Rush have notched 129 goals, third-best in the West, while the Knighthawks have just 100 goals, second from the bottom in the NLL … Reigning NLL Defender of the Year Kyle Rubisch leads the NLL with 29 forced turnovers and Jeremy Thompson is fifth in loose ball collection with 82. Rubisch had 11 loose balls against Calgary along with four forced turnovers while Thompson collected nine loose balls. Rubisch is second on the Rush with 78 loose balls and Brett Mydske is second in forced turnovers with 15. Chris Corbeil is third in both categories – 58 loose balls and 11 forced turnovers … The Rush were 4-for-6 on the power play against Calgary with Jarrett Davis getting both his goals on the man-advantage. Edmonton’s penalty killing though was far less successful as Calgary went 5-for-5 on the PP … Former Rush members Mike Accursi (seven goals) and Rory Glaves (14 loose balls) are on Rochester’s roster.
By The Numbers: A big third quarter against Calgary set the table for the win. The Rush outscored the Roughnecks 7-2 in the frame, setting a club record for most goals in a third quarter … The Rush are second in the NLL in both goals per game average (12.9) and goals scored in the first quarter (35) … Edmonton is 5-2 when leading at halftime including 4-0 on the road. The Rush are also 5-0 when leading after three quarters … Kyle Rubisch’s goal against Calgary came at 14:59 of the first quarter and was a length-of-the-floor shot into an empty net as the Roughnecks had pulled their goalie for a first shot. Rubisch picked off a pass and quickly fired a rolling shot into the gaping goal (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZ3RIuhMenc) … The Rush are 0-1 against the East this season having dropped their season-opener at home against Toronto. The Knighthawks are 2-1 against the West … After sluggish starts to their respective seasons Zack Greer and Cory Conway have turned things around. Greer is third in goals with 13 and has notched hat tricks in back-to-back games while Conway is now fourth on the Rush with 20 assists while … Rush defenders Chris Corbeil and John Lafontaine are tied for fourth in scoring by defenders with nine points each … The Knighthawks are a dangerous team while killing penalties, having registered seven shorthanded goals on the year including five at home … The Rush and Knighthawks have been frequent trading partners and there was no bigger trade between the two clubs than the one orchestrated prior to the 2012 season when the Rush acquired Shawn Williams, Aaron Bold, and a second-round pick in the ’12 draft from Rochester in exchange for Ryan Cousins, Andy Secore, and Kedoh Hill. It was a steal of a deal for the Rush as Williams was the club’s leading scorer last season, and Bold became the team’s No. 1 goaltender and team MVP while turning in all-star numbers.