Rush of goals sink Rock

Rush goaltender Matt Disher checks Pat McCready of the Rock during the second quarter of Sunday's...

Rush goaltender Matt Disher checks Pat McCready of the Rock during the second quarter of Sunday's NLL game at Rexall Place. (QMI Agency/Dale MacMillan)

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:47 AM ET

They might as well have let a pace car out at Rexall Place Sunday afternoon.

The Edmonton Rush and the visiting Toronto Rock played as close as the 14-13 suggests as Edmonton hung on to remain undefeated at home this season.

"It's hard to win on the road, so you've got to win at home," said Rush head coach and general manager Derek Keenan. "And we actually have played very well at home. We seem to rise to the occasion and the fans give us a bit of a boost.

"It's very important to win at home and so far, 3-0, we've done that. That's good, but we need to play better on the road than we have the last two weeks."

Saturday's clash was a rematch of last week's 16-7 home win for the Rock, who hang on to first place in the NLL's East Division despite falling to 6-3.

The Rush, meanwhile, move to 4-3 and pull into a second-place tie with the Calgary Roughnecks in the NLL West.

Ryan Powell paced Edmonton's attack with four goals and four assists.

"I think the key word is 'effort,' " said Keenan. "Offensively, we just needed to play with more jam. When you play with that kind of jam and confidence, and at the same time execute the game plan against that pressure defence, you can have a lot of success."

The Rock opened the scoring on the first shot of the game, but the Rush equalled on the very next shot as the two teams stayed neck-and-neck until the fourth quarter.

"They're a very good offensive team. We got a little loose there at the end and they had some opportunities," said Keenan, whose squad had more than one chance to pull away late.

Sherwood Park native Blaine Manning and Rock teammate Kasey Beirnes both scored in the dying minutes to pull within a goal of tying up, but it was as close as Toronto would get.

Manning finished with two goals and four assists and sits tied for third in league scoring with 52 points.

The Rush added size in the lineup that wasn't there last week, with six-foot-two, 230-pound defenceman Ryan McNish and six-foot-three, 205-pound forward Dane Stevens suiting up.

Stevens made his NLL debut with two goals and two assists.

"McNish, I thought, played great and I also thought Stevens on offence gave us another element that we haven't had," said Keenan.

The Rush outshot their opponents 55-50, which is something they have only been able to do once before this season.

"We hadn't done that since probably the Buffalo game," said Keenan. "It was probably a little bit more than it appeared on the shot clock because they had a lot of opportunities late with their goalie out.

"We took a deep breath, relaxed and then we just got multiple opportunities on a lot of possessions."

GERRY.MODDEJONGE@SUNMEDIA.CA


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