Rush Ward off Swarm

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:48 AM ET

EDMONTON -- The Edmonton Rush have their sights set higher than just the playoffs this year.

But considering the National Lacrosse League team has never qualified for the post-season, clinching a spot in the one-game elimination tournament is a start.

Saturday night at Rexall Place, the Rush did their part to snap a four-year playoff drought with an entertaining 16-14 victory over the visiting Minnesota Swarm.

Still, they needed the Colorado Mammoth to lose to the Washington Stealth (still in progress at press time) to make it official.

“The bottom line for us is that we have to take care of our own business,” said Rush head coach and general manager Derek Keenan.

“We got the lead tonight, and then I thought we figured it was going to be easy. It’s never easy, you can never get in that mindset.

“We started to get on our heels a little bit and then a couple of breaks went their way and the next thing you know we’re trading goals.

“It came down to we were able to get a couple more than them. It was almost one of those last-shot-wins-it games.”

Paced by Ryan Ward, who finished the night with two goals and five assists, the Rush took control with six goals in the first quarter after Callum Crawford opened the scoring on Minnesota’s first shot on goal.

Not to be outdone, the Rush replied in kind when Brodie Merrill fired one past Swarm starting goaltender Nick Patterson.

Jimmy Quinlan then scored on Edmonton’s second shot, while Gavin Prout converted the fourth.

Ryan Powell added a fourth goal on the Rush’s sixth shot, chasing Patterson.

Prout added another, while Dean Hill scored his first of three to give the Rush a 6-1 lead.

“We put ourselves behind because we didn’t come out prepared,” said Swarm head coach Mike Lines.

“We were flat and then we got too far behind to get back in the game.

“Our goaltender didn’t have any help. It would have been nice if he was able to get some help, so I’m not putting the loss on him by any stretch.”

The Swarm temporarily stopped the bleeding with goals from Richard Morgan and Aaron Wilson, but just as the quarter expired, Derek Suddons was awarded a goal to give Edmonton a 7-3 lead.

The goal came after Swarm netminder Kevin Croswell, who came in to replace Patterson, threw his stick at a ball bouncing towards the open net.

The teams then went on to trade goals for the remainder of the contest. The Swarm added four in the second to the Rush’s three, while each team netted five in the third.

The win improved the Rush’s record to 7-4 on the season, while dropping the Swarm to 5-6.

The Rush have four more games left on the schedule, three of which are at home, starting with the Stealth on Friday.

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca


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