May 12, 2012

Rush Crush Swarm in NLL West Division Final

Will play Rochester for Champion's Cup

from staff reports

Shawn Williams (one goal, five assists) was one of several Rush players to have big effort's in the NLL West final on Saturday night.
© Rush

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Thanks to a combination of a stubborn defense and balanced scoring attack the Edmonton Rush dismantled the Minnesota Swarm 15-3 in the West Division Final Saturday night in National Lacrosse League playoff action at Xcel Energy Center.

Edmonton scored 11 goals in the opening half en route to the victory Saturday and earned its first ever trip to the Champion's Cup to face the Rochester Knighthawks next Saturday in the league final. Rochester beat Toronto, 17-13, in the East final.

Riding its stellar defense and goaltending for the second consecutive road playoff contest, Edmonton held Minnesota to only one goal against in the opening half and three total for this game after the Rush routed the Calgary Roughnecks 19-11 May 5 in the semi-final.

"Obviously happy, but at the same thing not satisfied," said Rush head coach and general manager Derek Keenan after the dominating performance Saturday in Minnesota. "We still have a job ahead of us to do and we have a tremendous opportunity in front of us.

"We were pretty confident we could come into here and win, but I didn't think we would dominate a good team the way we did tonight. It was a complete effort all the way around and that's what you need to win playoff games like this and move forward into championship games."

Former Swarm forwards Ryan Ward (4G, 3A) and Aaron Wilson (3G, 4A) paced the Rush offense in the win Saturday while Corey Small (3G, 2A), Zack Greer (2G, 2A) and Shawn Williams (1G, 5A) also had big efforts for Edmonton. Defenders Ryan Dilks and Derek Suddons each had two points from the backend and face-off man Jarrett Toll went 5-for-22 at the X and also had 17 loose balls.

"It feels unbelievable," said Wilson after the win. "(It was) a full team effort. Everyone bought into the system and the game plan. A full 60-minutes of everybody playing well and our defense was just incredible along with Aaron Bold back there."

Rush goaltender Bold stopped 39-of-42 shots in the win and Minny's Tyler Carlson took the loss. Evan Kirk allowed 11 goals in relief for the Swarm.

Minnesota had two goals by Corbyn Tao and Ryan Benesch (1G, 1A) had two points in the loss.

"A great feeling for the guys and right from Aaron Bold on out everybody contributed, so it was a heck of an effort by our guys," Keenan added.

Edmonton, who went 6-10 in the regular season, made its second visit to the divisional final in three seasons and Minnesota, 9-7, earned its first trip to the West finale.

Wilson started the scoring quickly into the first quarter on the power-play at 42-seconds and Minnesota responded two minutes later to knot the score 1-1 before Small put the visitors back ahead less than five minutes in.

Edmonton then exploded for three goals in 35-seconds as Wilson scored his second followed by Dilks off the faceoff and Greer continued the run off a Bold outlet pass to move ahead 5-1.

Williams added to the Rush lead with less than three minutes remaining in the opening frame for a 6-1 advantage.

Small notched his second of the game with a sidewinder 107 seconds into the second stanza to keep the run alive and Ward made it a seven goal bulge with his marker midway through the frame.

Edmonton added to the lead when Wilson ripped his hat-trick marker with 61-ticks left in the clock and Ward kept the foot on the gas pedal, with his second of the contest, at 14:34 for a 10-1 lead before Greer fired his second of the night, for the third goal in 60 seconds, as the Rush led 11-1 at halftime.

The Rush continued to pour it on in the third quarter as Ward sniped his third of the contest 1:19 in for a 12-1 lead before Edmonton's defensive spell of 37:10 of scoreless lacrosse came to the end when Tao notched his second of the game with under five minutes left in the stanza.

With Minnesota's net empty for the extra attacker, Suddons found the open cage with one-second left in the quarter as Edmonton held a 13-2 advantage at the three quarters' mark.

The clubs traded tallies early in the fourth quarter and Ward's hat-trick goal on the power-play midway through the frame made it a 15-3 score for Edmonton and that would be the last ball into the net.

The Champion's Cup is set for Saturday, May 19 at 5:30 p.m. at Rochester's Blue Cross Arena.

Rush mush: EDM is 1-0 vs. MIN in the playoffs...EDM went 2-for-5 on the power-play and 3-5 on the PK...EDM outshot MIN 48-42... EDM scratched F Scott Evans, T Jesse Fehr and D Eric Lewthwaite.

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