This was the game to win.
It would have made a good impression on the thousands who came out to watch their first National Lacrosse League game.
Yet despite playing in front of their biggest crowd of the season, and second largest in franchise history, the Edmonton Rush could not solve Philadelphia Wings goaltender Brandon Miller or stop forward Merrick Thomson and fell 14-9.
Miller was outstanding early in the contest and kept his team in the game as the Rush tried to jump on the visitors early giving the announced 14,710 in attendance something to cheer about, while Thomson scored six goals.
At the other end, Rush goaltender Chris Levis struggled to make the big save when required and was eventually replaced by Steve Dietrich in the second half, who didn't fare much better.
The loss dropped the Rush to 3-6 on the season, while the Wings, who are off to face the Portland LumberJax tonight, improved to 4-5.
The loss hampers the Rush playoff aspirations, but does not obliterate them.
The team gets next week off due to the All-star break, but comes back to host the Calgary Roughnecks on March 14. With four home dates left in the schedule, there are still enough points left on the table to qualify for the playoffs.
The Rush did get off to a good start as Andy Secore scored a on the power play less than three minutes into the contest.
They had a number of chances prior to that, but were thwarted by Miller, who made a number of outstanding saves throughout the contest.
Unfortunately for the Rush, they could not build on their early lead as Thomson tied the game for the Wings less than a minute later. The Wings forward then added another and Drew Westervelt rounded out the scoring in the quarter giving the Wings a 3-1 lead.
In the second quarter Secore and Callum Crawford scored for the Rush to tie the game, but the good vibrations were once again short-lived as former Rush A.J. Shannon scored and Thomson added his third to give the Wings a two-goal lead.
Jaime Floris scored for the Rush with under a minute to play in the quarter, but Shannon netted his second before the end of the half to give the Wings a 6-4 lead going into the break.
In the second half, Westervelt and Thomas scored, extending the Wings lead to four goals. Patrick Heim added another with under a minute left in the quarter to give the visitors a 9-5 lead heading into the final 15 minutes of play.
Mat Giles extended Wings lead early in the fourth before Secore scored a couple to give the home squad some hope. But as had been the case all game, the Wings were quickly able to wrestle away any momentum from the Rush as Thomson and Shannon countered.
Jimmy Quinlan added another for the Rush before the end of the quarter, but Thomson was too much for the Rush on the evening, netting his sixth goal of the contest. Crawford added the Rush's eighth goal of the game with just under five minutes left in the quarter, while Mike Hominuck added another.
1. Merrick Thomson, Wings
Huge night, scoring six goals and adding an assist.
2. Andy Secore, Rush
Provided a bulk of the offence for the home team with four goals and two assists.
3. Brandon Miller, Wings
Wings goaltender made huge saves at key moments of the contest.
WHY RUSH LOST
They ran into a hot goaltender and didn't get big saves on their end of the floor.
From behind the net, Rush forward Andy Secore collects the ball behind the net, jumps and tucks past Wings goaltender Brandon Miller.
Rush forward Jimmy Quinlan and Ryan Benesch sandwich Wings forward Patrick Heim along the boards.
Rush goaltender Chris Levis is able to get on a arm on a shot from Wings forward Rob Van Beek while on a breakaway.
Rush host Calgary Roughnecks Friday, March 13 (7:30 p.m.) Rexall Place. DEREK.VANDIEST@SUNMEDIA.CA