It was a packed house at the Moose Jaw Events Centre on Saturday as the Saskatchewan Rush hosted the Calgary Roughnecks in a pre-season game in the first National Lacrosse League game to be held in Saskatchewan outside of Saskatoon.
Despite it being a pre-season matchup, the game had a regular season feel as it was standing room only in the arena.
“It's a great arena. It reminds me a lot of summer ball at home, but those arenas don't get filled up, so you experience a small barn with a packed atmosphere that got loud. It was pretty cool when we scored goals and the lights went out. The team, and the organization did a great job of putting this on,” said Rush forward Robert Church, who is from Coquitlam, B.C. and plays summer ball in Langley.
Saskatchewan attempted a late-game comeback. However, Calgary walked away with a 14-12 win.
Calgary grabbed an early lead and held on to it for the majority of the game. Saskatchewan would tie the game just over a minute into the fourth quarter, but a couple of mistakes led to two Calgary goals.
“That was the challenge before the game. We said that things weren't going to go our way and your character is revealed in those tough moments. We really wanted to stem their runs to two goals and I don't know if they got a three-goal run, I'd have to go back and check but I think for the most part we held them to two-goal runs,” said Rush head coach Jimmy Quinlan.
Calgary opened the scoring with Eli Salama finding the back of the net right off the faceoff 15 seconds into the game. A bouncer from the outside by Tanner Cook shortly afterward gave the Roughnecks a 2-0.
Church would bring the Moose Jaw crowd to their feet to get the Rush on the board with 11:35 on the clock.
Calgary replied right back with a swing shot from Jesse King to put the Roughnecks up by two. Thomas Vela would then tightwalk the crease for Calgary’s fourth goal.
Patrick Dodds ended the Roughnecks’ two-goal run 50 seconds later to get the Rush back within two.
Cook struck again for Calgary with 2:12 left to play in the first, but Clark Walter scored with 11.9 seconds left in the quarter to make the score 5-3 after one.
Saskatchewan found themselves shorthanded to start the second quarter. Mike Messenger went five-hole on Calgary goaltender Christian Del Bianco for the shorthanded marker 1:19 into the second quarter.
Vela was found all alone for Calgary with 11:59 on the clock to make the score 6-4 for the Roughnecks. Cook then added to the lead, going stick side of Frank Scigliano.
Saskatchewan was able to get back within one with Mike Triolo flying through the crease followed by a goal from captain Ryan Keenan with just over 10 minutes to play in the first half.
Shane Simpson scored on transition for the Roughnecks with 2:11 left to make it 8-6.
Calgary went up by three with 1:08 left in the half when Scigliano came out of the net and misplayed the ball. Ethan Ticehurst picked up the loose ball and buried it into the open cage. Calgary held a 9-6 lead at the half.
Saskatchewan opened the scoring in the second half with Walter streaking down the middle of the Rush trailed by two. Calgary replied less than two minutes later off a goal from King to make it 10-7.
The Rush broke the stalemate with Messenger scoring on the tic-tac-toe play with just over five minutes left in the third. With 58 seconds left in the quarter, Keegan Bell picked up a rebound off a Jake Bourdeau shot on transition and buried it to make it 10-9 for Calgary heading into the fourth quarter.
Only 1:03 into the fourth on the power play, Church scored to tie up the game 10-10. Calgary then regained the lead less than a minute later. Tyler Pace extended the Calgary lead going off the post and in,
The Rush got back within one after Church was found all alone in front to make it 12-11 Calgary. Dodds then dunked one from behind the net to tie it at 12.
King would score the go-ahead goal with 3:40 on the clock dodging defenders before beating Scigliano. Pace added the insurance marker off a rebound shot seconds later to give the Roughnecks the 14-12 victory.
You can watch the post-game interviews below.
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