We always talk about earning things here in Rush land and we earned it tonight," said Rush Assistant Coach Jimmy Quinlan after the game on Friday night.
In front of 12,275 fans at Northlands in Edmonton, the Rush won their first NLL Champion's Cup in franchise history, defeating the Toronto Rock 11-10 in Game 2 of the Champion's Cup Finals.
The game started out fast paced, but both teams struggled to score early, though they were not without chances. Brandon Miller stopped both Chris Corbeil, and Adrian Sorichetti on break always to keep his team from falling behind early. Josh Sanderson started the scoring for the Rock with a bounce shot that went through Bold's legs. Edmonton tied it with a transition goal from Jeff Cornwall in transition against three guys with three Rock defender draping all over him. The Rock retook the lead with a power-play goal from Rob Hellyer, an opportunity created by a Mark Matthews hitting from behind penalty.
It didn't take Edmonton long to tie it in the second, with Zack Greer scoring just 22 seconds in. The Rock got the lead back again with a goal from Kevin Crowley. Once Robert Church tied the game for the Rush again, Kasey Beirnes gave the Rock back the lead. Mark Matthews got himself on the board to tie the game at 4-4, and this time the Rock didn't answer, as Matthews gave the Rush their first lead of the night scoring with just 0.1 seconds left in the first half.
Matthews' rampage continued completing a natural hat trick on the power-play to extend Edmonton's lead. Toronto drew closer with a quick stick goal from Beirnes, but Ben McIntosh put Edmonton back up by two. There was no quit in the Rock who went on to score three straight from Leblanc, Gilbert, and Doyle to pull ahead.
The Rock were looking to take ahold of the game, and appeared to have gotten it on a goal from Kevin Crowley; however, the goal was disallowed as it was ruled that we was in the crease. Just seconds later, Robert Church scored to tie it up and complete a two-goal swing. Going into the fourth quarter tied at 8-8, it was do or die for the Rock.
In the fourth, Damon Edwards was given a five-minute major for boarding, giving the Rush a long power play, though it was the Rock who took advantage at first, with Rob Hellyer putting them ahead with a short handed goal. The Rush made better use of the remaining time on the man advantage, with Matthews scoring his fourth of the game to tie it at nine. With Matthew Dinsdale in the box, Matthews struck again, this time shorthanded, to give Edmonton the lead.
The Rock were not going to go without a fight, as Colin Doyle tied the game up at 10-10 with 2:18 left in the game. With overtime looming, the energy at Northlands was electric, though overtime never came.
After being traded to the Rush for a third round pick back at the trade deadline, Matthew Dinsdale gave the Rush the go-ahead goal with 1:02 left in the fourth. After some big saves from Aaron Bold on Crowley and Doyle, the Rush secured their first NLL title in franchise history.
With eight points (5+3) tonight, Mark Matthews was named series MVP of the NLL Champion's Cup Finals.
Three Stars of the Game as selected by the media:
1) Mark Matthews
2) Rob Hellyer
3) Kyle Rubisch
By Mike Wilson (@RushBeat) for NLL.com.