Rush still alive

CON GRIWKOWSKY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 1:33 AM ET

It was the best of teams. It was the worst of teams.

When it comes to the National Lacrosse League, it's definitely a Tale of Two Cities in Alberta.

While the Calgary Roughnecks arrived in town with a busload of fans looking to nail down first place in the NLL's West Division, the host Edmonton Rush were desperately trying to find a way to grab a playoff spot.

The Roughnecks got what then needed in a hard-fought 14-13 win, while the Rush are still in the running for their first playoff appearance in their three years of existence.

"Tonight was a huge win for us," said Calgary coach Troy Cordingley, who will finish No. 1 overall in the NLL since East Division leader Buffalo lost in New York last night. "I thought it was one of our better games in the last half of the year. That's the Edmonton Rush team we expected all year."

The Rush can still grab a playoff spot with a season-ending win over Colorado Friday night, providing Minnesota loses in New York.

"Apparently, we're still in," said Rush coach Bob Hamley. "If it's a tie, apparently we win the tiebreaker.

"It's disappointing to lose, but full marks to our guys. The last three weeks, our guys have played their hearts out. Our guys never gave up. Right to the end, we had a chance to tie it up."

The turning point of the game was a shorthanded goal late in the third quarter which was upheld on appeal. A similar goal earlier in the quarter by the Rush was overturned.

"What a ... I don't want to get fined, so I'm not going to say anything," said Hamley. "It was a tough call."

With a much more spirited performance than their embarrassing 22-10 loss to the Roughnecks when they last visited Rexall Place a month ago, the Rush were ahead for most of the second and third quarters.

Rush goalie Chris Levis finally wilted under a relentless Roughnecks attack, that outshot the Rush 56-48.

The Rush are 2-0 against Colorado this year.

"We're not (dead yet)," said Levis. "It's funny the way this season has gone. Most of the games have come down to the wire and it's almost bittersweet that the entire season is going to come down to the final game against Colorado. I don't know exactly what our chances are, but I know if we go in and win, then we have a good chance of being in the playoffs. Hopefully, we can capitalize. We're a team that matches well against them. A lot of teams are scared going into Colorado, but we're not one of them."

Levis knew in his heart that a Jimmy Quinlan goal that was called back on appeal could have made the difference.

"The one that was real disappointing was the (Jamie Floris) goal in the one they reviewed in the second quarter," said Levis. "They called our goal back when Jimmy Quinlan got hit into the crease and all of a sudden they run the film on the identical scenario (on a shorthanded goal by Josh Sanderson) and they call it a goal. When you have an identical scenario, then one's overturned and one's a goal, it's really disappointing."

RUSH LINES: Winners of the 2008-09 team awards: Community service, Chris McElroy; top transition player and top defenceman, Ian Hawksbee; unsung hero, Chris McKay; most valuable player, Dan Teat.

CON.GRIWKOWSKY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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