Rush 18, Mammoth 6
It sure looks that way.
The new-look Saskatchewan Rush — featuring an injection of new blood after failing to make the playoffs this past season — opened the new National Lacrosse League season with a bang Saturday night at SaskTel Centre.
The Rush rolled off a quick 6-0 lead early in the second quarter on its way to a 18-6 victory over the visiting Colorado Mammoth before a crowd announced at 7,736.
“Getting back in front of our fans after a season that kind of didn’t go our own way, it’s a huge win and a great start,” said veteran Rush defender Kyle Rubisch.
“In a home-opener and get a big win like that, it feels great right now.”
Dan Lintner got the ball rolling at 1:54 of the first period and added a second tally four minutes later. He finished the game with four goals.
Robert Church also scored four times to go along with six assists for a 10-point night. Mark Matthews had a pair of goals and 10 helpers for a massive 12-point outing for Saskatchewan, which led 4-0 after the first quarter and 8-3 at half-time.
Ryan Keenan and Marty Dinsdale each notched a hat-trick Saturday. Dinsdale added five assists and Keenan got three apples.
“A big win and a win like that is pretty special,” said Church. “We didn’t have many like that last year so hopefully it’s a sign of things to come.”
Marshall Powless and Holden Garlent also scored for Saskatchewan, which outshot Colorado 69-48.
Alex Buque made 42 saves in his first league game with the Rush.
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“Definitely it was a good start,” said Rubisch. “We came out strong and we played a full 60 minutes tonight. It felt really good to kind of get back on track and get off to a good start this season.
“It was just a full team win. Buque obviously played amazing in net and the defence was solid and, obviously, look at the goals the offence put up. Everything clicked tonight. Our young guys stepped up and played amazing. Our goaltending was amazing. Our offence just played out of their minds. It was a great night.”
Dillon Ward and Tyler Carlson shared the goaltending duties for the Mammoth.
Last season, the Rush finished with an 8-10 record and out of the playoffs. The team made a coaching change late in the season with Jimmy Quinlan coming on board to replace Jeff McComb.
Quinlan couldn’t ask for a better way to start a new campaign.
“We challenged that group mentally through camp as well as physically,” said Quinlan. “We strongly believe in having a plan and executing the plan and sticking to the plan and we did that in spades tonight. Results aside, I’m just proud of those guys for their attention to detail. We preach a lot about the little things making big things and we were really good in all facets of the game.
“Credit to those guys in our room. The buy-in was just awesome and the execution was excellent. Those guys were just awesome tonight and I’m just proud of them.”
“I think we just came out with a plan and executed the plan,” replied Quinlan. “At the end of the day, we beat a very good team. When we see those guys again, it’s going to be a different game. It’s really about us. It was about execution and playing the way we want to play.”
RUSH HOUR: Colorado’s line-up featured former Rush players Austin Murphy, Connor Robinson, Nick Finlay, John Lintz and goalie Tyler Carlson … Saskatchewan returns to action next Friday in San Diego against the Seals … Next home game for the Rush is Saturday, Dec. 31 against Panther City.