The Saskatchewan Rush hope to rebound from last week’s shocking home floor loss to Buffalo when the ball drops on Saturday’s Saddledome showdown against the Roughnecks in Calgary.
Despite hat-tricks from Ben McIntosh and Robert Church as well as an eight-point performance from Mark Matthews the Bandits stole a 16-15 SaskTel Centre stunner, coming back from deficits of 6-0 after one quarter, 9-3 at the half, and 12-5 almost midway through the third quarter.
Coach and GM Derek Keenan pointed out as a perennial NLL contender, the Rush have targets on their backs most weeks against the sometimes desperate opposition.
“For the last number of years, we’ve been at or at the top of the league and every week we’re going in, we seem to face a desperate team like this weekend,” said Keenan. The veteran bench boss said they need to simply get back to playing Rush lacrosse, with aggressive and intense defence building the foundation for the talented forwards to do their thing.
“It’s a big rivalry game, we need to get back to what we do well and get back to understanding that every team that’s going to play against us are going to play hard all the time.”
The Roughnecks fall into the desperate category as the (1-4) Calgarians will try to end a three-game losing streak.
The (4-1) Rush still lead the Western Division as well as having the top points and goal producers. Mark Matthews is tied with Buffalo’s Dhane Smith and former teammate Adam Jones of Toronto for the points lead with 36. Ben McIntosh is the league’s top shooter with 16 goals including an NLL pace-setting seven on the power play. The Rush continues to lead the league with a power play percentage of 66.7.
Rush defenders will be trying to make life difficult for leading scorer Curtis Dickson (8g-17a) and Dane Dobbie who has scored all of his six goals on the power play. Wesley Berg had four goals and six points two weeks ago in a 15-12 loss to Georgia in Calgary.
It will also be a big night for Rush forward Jeff Shattler. He returns to Calgary after 11 successful seasons with the Roughnecks. Shattler has seven goals and 12 assists since signing with the Rush as a free agent in the off-season.
The game gets underway at 8 p.m. with the Rush-Hour pregame who on 98-COOL signing on at 7 o’clock.