Rush keep playoff hopes alive

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:31 AM ET

The Edmonton Rush were able to pick themselves up off the mat after an embarrassing loss to Calgary at home two weeks ago, only to lose a heart-breaker in San Jose.

Now heading into tonight's contest against the Toronto Rock (7 p.m.) at Rexall Place, the Rush are in must-win territory to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.

"We talked about it before our game in San Jose, we felt that game was pivotal to our playoff run," said Rush head coach and general manager Bob Hamley.

"We're not out of it. We're still in it.

"We have to battle hard against Toronto and we have to play better in front of our home crowd than we did that last time we saw them, so we'll be ready for (tonight)."

COSTLY DEFEAT

The Rush gave up three fourth-quarter goals last week in San Jose on their way to an 11-10 loss to the Stealth. It proved to be a costly defeat considering the Stealth are one of the teams the Rush are battling with for the fourth and final playoff spot in the West Division.

Edmonton goes into tonight's contest two games back of the final playoff spot with five games left on the schedule.

"We're a pretty fragile team right now," Hamley said. "Obviously our record is not where we want it to be at this point of the season. At this point, you are looking for anything positive after what happened at home against Calgary.

"I was very happy with our effort in San Jose. I thought we played a lot more relaxed and for whatever reason, we seemed to be a lot more confident. We're just not finishing games. We had a lead throughout and we just couldn't finish it in the fourth quarter. I was happy with the effort, but obviously not happy with the result."

The last time the Rush played at Rexall Place, they were run out of the building by the Calgary Roughnecks, falling 22-10. The Rush gave up five early goals, putting to rest any question as to the outcome of the contest.

Ironically, goaltender Steve Dietrich, who got the start in net that night for the Rush and was pulled on a couple of occasions, is now a member of the Rock and may get the start in goal against his former team.

Dietrich was dealt to Toronto just prior to the NLL trade deadline less than two weeks ago for a second-round draft pick.

The Rock head into the contest in a playoff battle of their own. They went into the weekend last in the East Division standings but just half a game back of the fourth and final playoff spot. They also went into Calgary last night on a two-game win streak.

"They're a good team," said Hamley. "We saw them last month and they beat us pretty handily in the fourth quarter. We know what they can do, their offence is pretty dynamic, they have a lot of weapons and it looks like (goaltender) Bob Watson has found his groove, too, so it's going to be a real challenge for us."

SIX UNANSWERED GOALS

The last time the two teams met, the Rock scored six unanswered goals in the fourth quarter on their way to a 16-9 victory.

"We know that Edmonton is in a situation where they have to win every game," head coach Jamie Batley said. "Even if they are unable to make the playoffs, they're going to play hard. They do have a good team and they just haven't found their groove this year.

"I thought they deserved to win that game against San Jose and I believe we're going to have a tough game against them."


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