Rush give up halftime lead in recent loss to Toronto

A four-goal lead at halftime wasn’t enough for the Saskatchewan Rush in their matchup against the Toronto Rock on February 29 at SaskTel Centre. Toronto roared to life in the second half, putting together a clutch four-goal run and then two critical goals in the fourth quarter as they upended the Rush 9-8.

It was the Rock’s first win in Saskatoon, which brought the Rush’s three-game winning streak to an end.

The Rush had a 6-2 lead at halftime and seemed to have control of the game, but that lead shrank, and eventually disappeared when Reid Reinholdt completed his hat trick with a brilliant shorthanded goal two minutes into the fourth quarter. The Rock got the eventual game-winner three minutes later when Rob Hellyer whipped a sidearm shot past Rush goalie Evan Kirk.

“Our discussion at halftime was that we thought we were playing better than what the scoreboard showed,” said Reinholdt. “We thought we ran them well, tired them out a bit, and we continued to take a chunk out of them. We kept the pedal to the metal and it panned out.”

The Rush closed the gap to within one on Robert Church’s hat-trick tally 48 seconds after Hellyer’s goal, but they couldn’t find the equalizer over the remainder of the final frame.

Ryan Keenan opened the scoring in a defensive first quarter, rifling a shot off the crossbar and past Toronto goalie Nick Rose on a Saskatchewan power play. The Rush’s offence came alive in the second quarter as Church and Jeff Shattler each potted a pair of goals – the pair combining for a pair of those markers in a span of just 48 seconds. Marty Dinsdale, who became a father for the first time during the week, gave the Rush a 6-2 lead before halftime as they threw a spin move on the Rock defender, drove to the crease and then lunged out while tucking his shot over Rose’s shoulder.

The Rock cut into their four-goal deficit early in the third with Dan Craig’s dunk shot followed by back-to-back markers from Reinholdt – the first of which came during a five-minute power play.

After making a handful of key saves in the quarter, Rose turned playmaker as he scooped up a rebound and fired a breakaway pass to Scott Dominey who brought the Rock even at 6-6. Mark Matthew briefly restored the lead for the Rush, but the Rock tied it up again with only 13 seconds left in third when Johnny Powless sent a slick behind-the-back shot past Kirk for his second of the night.

Reinholdt’s offensive effort was particularly noteworthy as the Rock were already without Adam Jones and Tom Schreiber up front, and then added Dan Dawson to their injured list prior to the game.

Taylor Stuart had the Rock’s other goal on the night while Rose finished with 43 saves. Church (3 goals, 2 assists) led the Rush offence with Kirk totaling 44 saves.

The Rush return to SaskTel Centre on March 7 when they host the Vancouver Warriors.