The Edmonton Rush (8-5) earned a weekend sweep and their fifth-straight victory to move atop the West Division with a 17-12 road win over the East Division-leading Toronto Rock (8-4) before a crowd of 9,947 at Air Canada Centre on Sunday afternoon.
Rush rookie Mark Matthews opened the scoring 4:20 into the game before Zack Greer made it 2-0 with a nifty behind-the-back goal off a rebound midway through the first quarter. The two teams traded goals before Edmonton scored three times in the final 1:42 for a 6-2 lead after 15 minutes of play.
The Rush made it a six-goal scoring run with three more goals in the first 5:25 of the second quarter to go up 9-2. But the Rock fought back with a three-goal run to cut the deficit to 9-5 at halftime.
Two quick goals by Edmonton in the first 3:43 of the second half made it 11-5. After Toronto’s Garrett Billings responded on the power play less than two minutes later, the Rush answered with another pair of goals within 55 seconds for the commanding 13-6 lead.
After the Rock narrowed the Rush’s lead to 14-8 after three quarters, Toronto scored twice more to trail 14-10 at the halfway point of the fourth quarter. Edmonton’s Corey Small stopped the run with 5:13 left, Kyle Rubisch scored his second of the day before Small scored again for a three-goal run in a 1:30 span to put the game out of reach at 17-10 before Toronto added two late goals with the game already decided.
Matthews (3+1), Rubisch (2+2) and Small (2+2) each posted a team-high four points for the Rush and Zack Greer scored three goals. Goalie Aaron Bold made 29 saves on 41 shots.
Billings recorded a game-high eight points (3+5), captain Colin Doyle had six points (3+3), Stephan Leblanc had four points (1+3) while Kasey Beirnes scored a hat trick. Rock goalie Nick Rose was pulled early in the second quarter after allowing eight goals on 25 shots in favor of backup Zack Boychuk who made 23 stops on 31 shots in relief in just his second appearance this season.
A bright spot in the loss for Toronto was their continued efficiency on the power play as they went 4-for-6 while Edmonton went 2-for-5 with the man advantage.
Both teams have already clinched playoff berths and look to improve their playoff positioning to earn home field advantage in the postseason.
The Rush completed a five-game road sweep and will return home on Saturday, April 6 for their first game at Rexall Place since February 22 while the Rock return to action next weekend on Friday, March 29 against the Buffalo Bandits.