March 25, 2012
Rush move into playoff spot
By JASON HILLS, QMI Agency
EDMONTON - It was just what the Edmonton Rush didn’t need heading into their biggest game of the season — facing a hot goaltender.
But the Rush have dealt with plenty of adversity this season, so why not a little bit more?
The Rush fired 57 shots towards Washington Stealth goaltender Tyler Richards, but they found a way to grind out a gutsy 10-9 win Saturday night against the Washington Stealth at Rexall Place.
Edmonton dominated the shot clock, outshooting their West division rivals 57-39, but the Rush had to battle tooth and nail for every goal they got.
The victory now pushes Edmonton into the final playoff spot in the NLL as they leap frog the Stealth in the West diviion standings.
“We needed a win a game like this, because you can start to get a feeling of here we go again ... It was an outstanding effort, the breakdowns that cost us the last three games weren’t there (Saturday night),” said Rush head coach Derek Keenan.
“(Richards) played outstanding. We got lots of great looks and he turned us away, but we didn’t give up. The guys have really bought into the system offensively.”
Zach Greer scored four goals and NLL ironman Shawn Williams scored two goals and six points in his 190th game, while Scott Evans scored twice and added one assist as the Rush improved to 3-7 on the season.
Williams scored just 50 seconds into the game, and the veteran play-maker scored the game winner at the 8:23 mark of the fourth quarter.
Aaron Bold wasn’t tested as much as his counterpart, but he was clutch when it came to crunch-time — saving his best for the fourth quarter as Washington tried desperately for the comeback.
Bold finished with 30 saves.
Jeff Zywicki scored two goals in the fourth quarter, the last with just 18 seconds left in the game. It was the fourth one-goal game of the year for Edmonton, but just the first time they finished on the right side of the scoreboard in those games.
“We had a 6-4 lead in the game and our offence just disappeared after that. It was frustrating,” said Stealth head coach Chris Hall.
“We’re in a real hole now. They have the season series and we’re half a game behind them in the loss column. We only have five games left and they are all difficult ones. We almost have to win out to make the playoffs now.”
That’s good news for the Rush, and the win was extra sweet for Edmonton as Rush fans finally got an opportunity to see sniper Athan Iannucci, who snubbed the Rush and requested a trade after being acquired in the offseason; leading to the trade with Washington.
Iannucci did his best to show fans his offensive prowess scoring back-to-back goals to end the first quarter and start the second, but Edmonotn’s stingy defence held Iannucci in check the rest of the way.
Ryhs Dutch led Washington offensively with one goal and five points.
Last week against the Philadelphia Wings, the Rush had an awful third quarter that saw their 9-7 first-half lead disappear quickly with six goals in a seven minute span, eventually leading to a 16-15 loss.
Not this week. Edmonton outshot Washington 13-5 and held the Stealth to just one goal in the third.
Greer, Corey Small and Evans scored three straight goals to end the third quarter giving the Rush a 9-7 lead.
Greer’s goal was under review for several minutes before being awarded. It proved to be the big turning point in the game for the Rush.
“That was a big momentum shifter for us and we had a great start to the third quarter and it carried over into the fourth,” said Greer.
“We knew this was going to be a battle right down to the final horn.”