Rush keep playoff hopes alive

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 1:23 PM ET

They played like a team with a second chance to make a first playoff appearance.

Last night the Edmonton Rush looked rejuvenated as they hosted the Portland LumberJax in their penultimate home game of the season at Rexall Place.

The Rush defeated the LumberJax 11-10, to get them back into playoff contention, lifting them into a three-way tie for the fourth and final playoff spot in the National Lacrosse League West Division.

"It's a big win, every game from here is big," said Rush head coach and GM Bob Hamley. "I'm proud of the guys, they battled hard for the past three weeks, they never gave up.

"Even tonight, they scored two late goals to get back into in, but we just never gave up and willed our way to the win."

Callum Crawford led the way offensively for the Rush with seven points, while Jimmy Quinlan and Mike Hominuck each had six.

Goaltender Chris Levis also had a outstanding game, finishing with 43 saves, including a couple of huge ones late to preserve the victory.

"He was the story of the game," Hamley said. "He kept us in the game. We could have been out of it in the first half. Then when they made a little rally late, he made some big saves and didn't let them go off. Chris Levis was definitely the story tonight."

Two weeks ago, while languishing at the bottom of the standings, it appeared as though the Rush would need a minor miracle to qualify for a playoff spot.

As it turned out all they needed was a win and for a couple of teams to falter.

Last week's victory over the Toronto Rock had the Rush a game out of the final playoff spot. Today they travel to face the Minnesota Swarm, the team they started the weekend chasing.

"If there were 25 breaks in the game, we got every one of them," said LumberJax head coach Derek Keenan. "They played hard, both teams played hard, but I thought they got a lot of breaks."

Jimmy Quinlan got things started for the Rush, snapping a shot past LumberJax goaltender Joel Weber on the power play.

The lead was short-lived as Brodie Merrill and Peter Morgan, with a pair, responded for the visitors.

Andy Secore cut into the led before the end of the first quarter, with his 18th goal of the season and sixth in his last two games.

In the second quarter, Quinlan tied the game with a long bounce shot that snuck through the legs of Weber.

Portland then again took control with three straight goals as Cory Conway scored a pair and Merrill added the other.

The Rush were able to pull to within one before the end of the half as Crawford and Dan Teat scored late in the quarter.

In the second half, Crawford found the mark on two more occasions giving the Rush the lead for the first time since Quinlan opened the scoring in the first quarter.

However, Merrill tied the game, firing a shot that went right through the net.

Less than a minute later, Mike Hominuck beat Weber with a nifty behind-the-back shot, restoring the Rush lead.

Derek Malawsky briefly tied the game on a power-play marker, but Hominuck came down the floor and restored the Rush lead, giving them a 9-8 lead heading into the final quarter.

In the fourth quarter, Teat scored a pair of goals to expand the lead to three. Conway pulled one back for the LumberJax, setting up a tense final five minutes. When Ryan Powell scored with just over two minutes to go, things got downright frightening for the home team.

"Confidence and momentum is a big thing," said Hamley. "It's huge for us. Even tonight, with the offence, we never gave up, we were kind of flat in the first half but we stayed with it, we were getting good looks and credit those guys they never gave up on the game plan."


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