January 23, 2010

Rush Beats Bandits, 11-7, in Defensive Affair

from press release

By Matthew Iwanyk | NLL.com

EDMONTON, AB -- The Edmonton Rush defeated the Buffalo Bandits 11-7 in the Rush home opener at Rexall Place on Saturday night. The Rush improved to 2-1, while the Bandits fell to 0-4.

The Rush scored five minutes into the fourth quarter to take a 9-5 lead. The Buffalo Bandits did try to mount a comeback scoring two late goals, but the deficit was too much to overcome.

The Edmonton Rush came out firing to open the game, as Ryan Ward scored just a minute and seventeen seconds into the game. After the goal the Bandits Brett Bucktooth got into a heated exchange with the Gavin Prout of the Rush, with each earning a roughing penalty. Down 2-1 midway through the first quarter Billy Dee Smith of the Bandits got past Rush transition player Scott Stewart and beat goalie Matt Disher. The goal was initially ruled as a crease violation but overturned from a challenge from the Bandits.

"As an offensive player, it's nice to get your first goal of the game because you are here to put up points and contribute and then you can kind of take a deep breathe, settle in and go from there", Ryan Ward said about scoring the early goal really helps him relax and have a great game.

The second quarter was dominated by the goalies of each respective team. Both teams exchanged quality-scoring chances but Disher and Ken Montour of the Bandits denied any goals. Their dominance of the game would span just over fifteen minutes, until Rush forward Jimmy Quinlain sniped a shot from midrange to give the Rush a 4-2 lead. 

The goaltending clinic continued into the second half, as both goalies did not want to give they opposing team any advantage in the game. At 6:05 of the third quarter Andy Secore got around Bandits defender Chris White to pot his first goal of the game and third point. With 2:23 left in the third quarter the game had its second challenge as Secore scored in front of the net, but as the first challenge was it was ruled a crease violation. It proved to be a worthy challenge for Rush coach Derek Keenan as the call was once again overturned. 

The Rush was led by forwards Ryan Ward and Andy Secore, as Ward scored four goals and four assists, while Secore scored a hat trick and added three assists of his own. In their first home games as members of the Rush, Brodie Merrill added a goal and a three assists and Gavin Prout assisted on four goals. Pat Jones dominated the faceoff circle in the Rush victory, winning 19 of the 22 face-offs. Matt Disher rebounded well after a rough outing in his first game this season as he stopped 33 of 40 shots he faced.

"I can't imagine being a whole of a lot better defensively and that was our focus this week even in our Colorado game we weren't great last week. Tonight we were spectacular on our defensive end", said Rush Coach Derek Keenan

For the Edmonton Rush this game was an important win for the franchise, having missed the post season in every year of existence. For Keenan this win was key to a successful season and hopefully a playoff date.

"It's key for us. We had a tough game last Friday and bounced back really well last Saturday night and kept the momentum going tonight. It's important", said Keenan. "It's a learning process with this group, with a lot of new players, but a lot of good players and a lot of smart players. I think the learning curve will be short."

Had it not been for Bandits goalie Ken Montour the game may have been out of hand early as Montour faced 49 shots stopping 39. The Buffalo Bandits have now lost all four games this season, although they have been without their veteran John Tavares, who is currently out with a lower body injury. Once again this season the Bandits could not get much going offensively having only scored 34 goals in four games.

The Rush now must get set to host their rivals from the south, as the Calgary Roughnecks make their way to Rexall Place for the first installment this year of the Battle of Alberta, which goes next Saturday at 7 p.m. Eastern.

The Bandits search for their first win of the season as they head back home the take on the Minnesota Swarm at 7:30 p.m. Eastern next Saturday at the HSBC Arena.

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