April 15, 2012

Rush Veterans Loom Large in Win over Buffalo

from press release

EDMONTON, Alberta The Edmonton Rush looked to its leadership group Saturday night and the veterans produced as the Rush defeated the Buffalo Bandits 11-8 in National Lacrosse League action before 6,897 fans at Crystal Glass Field at Rexall Place.

Edmonton's leading scorer Shawn Williams led the attack with one goal and five assists in the game and the Rush also had key markers from veterans Steve Toll and Derek Suddons in transition as Edmonton won its third game in the club's last four starts.

"Those guys have been great," said Rush head coach and general manger Derek Keenan. "Steve Toll does a great job on the penalty marker which we knew he would. But it's on the bench and in the dressing room that he's really good with the guys and he's like having another coach out there.

"Of course, Willy led out there tonight and really took charge of the offense," Keenan added.

Edmonton improved to 5-8 on the campaign with the victory Saturday and boosted its playoff hopes in the West division as the Rush moved one win ahead of the fifth place Washington Stealth (4-10) with one game in hand and the Rush magic number for post-season play is any combination of an Edmonton win or Washington loss in the remaining games.

"It looks that way, but we have to take care of our own business," said Keenan. "We had a goal when we were sitting at 2-7. We had a certain number we wanted to get to and we're not there yet."

Buffalo (5-9) fell for the third time in the last four games and now sits in the basement of the East division with two games remaining.

Edmonton triggerman Zack Greer (3G, 1A) had a four-point night in the win and Ward (1G, 4A) had five points, while Corey Small (2G, 2A), Wilson (1G, 1A), Tom Johnson, Suddons and Toll added the other tallies.

With five assists in the contest Saturday Williams broke the Rush record for assists in one season (46) to best Ryan Ward's 43 helpers in 2010.

"You don't want to say they're must wins, but we're running out of games," said Williams. "So, obviously, both sides of the fence thought it was a must win and lucky for us, we were on that side."

Buffalo had a four point effort from John Tavares (2G, 2A) and a hat-trick from Luke Wiles and singles from Mark Steenhuis, Kevin Buchannan and Jimmy Purves.

Rush netminder Aaron Bold (5-8) stopped 32-of-40 shots against and Anthony Cosmo was tagged with the loss after coming in for Buffalo starter Mike Thomson who left the contest with an injury after 9:41 of play.

Bold and the Edmonton back end allowed only two goals in the second half, including the late power-play marker.

"I thought in the second half defensively we were just outstanding and that's what it takes," Keenan said. "And we scored enough goals tonight which has been a struggle for us."

Wiles of the Bandits opened the scoring 77-seconds into the contest before Edmonton answered back on special teams when Toll intercepted a pass on the Bandits power play, then raced down the carpet and deposited the ball past Thompson to tie the score 1-1 before Wiles nabbed his second of the game later on the same penalty.

Williams knotted the score midway through the frame after he turned into the middle and fired his 12th of the season and then the Rush took a 3-2 lead when Suddons, in transition, notched his fifth of the year less than two minutes later.

After Buffalo tied the score 3-3 to end the scoring in the opening quarter, both clubs came out firing in the second frame as Edmonton's Greer sniped his team-leading 25th of the campaign 1:43 into the stanza and Johnson followed that with a time and space ripper 25-seconds later to grab a 5-3 lead.

Buffalo made it a one-goal game again when Tavares tallied three minutes into the frame and then the Bandits penalty-kill unit was able to hold the Rush off the board for a five-minute major before Greer made it a two-goal bulge again when he fought off a Buffalo defender and converted with a man up to put Edmonton ahead 6-4.

The Bandits answered back with two markers in the final three minutes of the half including a brilliant play by Tavares to grab a loose ball behind the net and back-door it into the open cage for a 6-6 tie at halftime.

Wilson provided the Rush with 7-6 lead just over two minutes into the third quarter and Small followed with two more tallies, including a quick-stick power play goal midway through the frame, as Edmonton gained a 9-6 advantage.

The Rush, who led 9-7 after three quarters, continued the scoring in the final frame as Greer notched his hat trick marker at 4:24 and then Ward got into the scoring act less than two minutes later for a four-goal bulge, before the Bandits scored with only 16-ticks left on the clock and the final was a 11-8 victory in favour of the hosts.

Edmonton faces a double shot of Western rivals next weekend as the club meets the Colorado Mammoth at Denver Friday and return home to Rexall Place for a Saturday, April 21th meeting with the Calgary Roughnecks at 7 p.m. at Crystal Glass Field.

Rush mush: EDM is 2-1 all-time vs. BUF...EDM went 2-for-5 on the power-play Saturday and 2-5 on the PK... EDM outshot BUF 51-40...Former Bandit Chris Corbeil scrapped with BUF F Brandon Francis in the 4th Q...F Shawn Williams played his NLL record 193rd consecutive game... EDM scratched F Shawn Evans, T Jesse Fehr, and D Eric Lewthwaite.. 

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