CALGARY — The Edmonton Rush might not have had their first playoff win in franchise history served up on a silver platter, but there was definitely a Dish involved.
Rush goalie Matt Disher made 60 saves on the way to an 11-7 victory at the Saddledome Saturday afternoon to advance to the second round.
Outshot 67-37, the Rush’s offence favoured quality over quantity of opportunities, scoring on their first 10 shots of the game, while the defence held the National Lacrosse League’s top scorer, Josh Sanderson, to just three assists.
“They were peppering us with shots and getting second chances. With as much firepower as they have and as much talent, it’s not a good plan on our part,” said Rush forward Ryan Ward, who finished with a goal and eight assists. “We relied on Matt Disher, who had an incredible effort.”
Disher backstopped the Rush to their first shutout opening quarter of the season on the way to saving 31 of 33 first-half shots on the way to a 5-2 halftime lead.
“It was a huge win, what we managed to pull out here in Calgary because it’s always a tough place to play,” said Disher, who earned his eighth playoff win. “It’s the first playoff win for the franchise, too, so I think that maybe builds on our confidence.
“You ask the (Calgary) guys, they’ll probably wish they took a bit better-quality shots. I didn’t feel like it was too rough, there were a couple stretches there.”
Edmonton took a 2-0 lead on a pair of power-play goals by forwards Gavin Prout and Ryan Ward before Dean Hill poked in the rebound off a shot by assistant captain Jimmy Quinlan.
The Roughnecks stormed back in the second set with the backing of the majority of the 10,388 fans announced in attendance, as Dane Dobbie pin-balled off a pair of Rush defenders before sliding the ball into the back of the net while falling backwards to the floor.
Dobbie struck again to open the third quarter and once more early in the fourth to cap a hat-trick performance and bring the Roughnecks within a goal of tying the game.
“We kept our composure,” said Disher. “We knew coming in to this we’re a team that can play in close games. We don’t let up and I think that might have helped us here.”
The Rush outscored the Roughnecks 4-1 in the final 14 minutes to earn a berth into the second playoff round next week.
“We didn’t get a lot of opportunities, but when we did we scored goals,” said Rush head coach Derek Keenan.
“They seemed to possess the ball more than us, but when we did get opportunities they were timely and important and that’s what it takes to win.
“It was tough, they threw a lot of rubber at us and obviously Matt Disher was the star of the game. No question, with all of the saves that he made.”