The Saskatchewan Rush made their lone exhibition game a memorable one.
Ryan Keenan notched four goals in the fourth quarter, including a natural hat trick, while Ben McIntosh and Jeff Shattler each posted hat tricks as the Rush pounded the Calgary Roughnecks 17-11 on Saturday night at SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon.
The Rush went 7-for-8 on the power play with Mark Matthews counting a pair on the man-advantage, while Marty Dinsdale scored once on the power play and added a goal on a penalty shot early in fourth quarter.
Shattler, who was the most valuable player of the Rush’s playoff run last spring, notched a first-half hat trick and liked the look of the reigning NLL Cup champs despite several new faces in the pre-season lineup.
“It’s always nice to be back with the boys,” said Shattler. “This is a great group of guys, like a big family, and I think we’re going to have another good run at the Cup.”
A back-and-forth first half closed out with Rush captain Chris Corbeil taking advantage of a giveaway by Calgary goalie Christian Del Bianco and burying a shot with 12 seconds left to give his team a 6-5 lead at the break.
The third quarter belonged to the Rush’s Ben McIntosh, who scored all three of his goals in the stanza, kicking things off on a break set up by a long-range from rookie defender Ryan MLean. McIntosh put his stamp on the quarter with his third goal coming on a terrific dunk shot from behind the Roughnecks net.
After Dinsdale’s penalty shot tally gave the Rush an 11-8 lead, Keenan fired a rocket at the Calgary goal that appeared to go inside the post but was not initially ruled a goal. However, upon video review,
Keenan’s shot clearly went in, and he followed that up with back-to-back power-play markers to extend the Rush’s lead. Connor Robinson, the Rush’s first-round pick in 2018 NLL Entry Draft, added to the Rush’s fourth-quarter onslaught, and Keenan collected his fourth on a breakaway feed from Dinsdale.
The Rush’s offence was capped with a final power-play tally, this one courtesy of another 2018 draft pick Zach Gould. It was a particularly special moment for the big crowd at SaskTel Centre as Gould played his junior lacrosse with the Saskatchewan Swat and hails from nearby Warman, Sask.
Evan Kirk played the first three quarters in the Rush net before giving way to Adam Shute for the final period.
Saskatchewan will formally get the 2019 regular season under way on Friday, December 28th when they head out to take on the New England Black Wolves. The Rush will raise their 2018 championship banner at the home-opener on January 5th against the San Diego Seals.