The Edmonton Rush tied the longest winning streak to start a season in National Lacrosse League history, moving to 8-0 with an 11-10 nailbiter of a win over the Toronto Rock Friday at home Friday night. It was a tight game throughout, with neither team holding a lead of more than 2 goals at any point. Mark Matthews, Cory Conway and Riley Loewen each scored twice for the Rush, with Matthews and Conway adding 3 assists and Loewen 2 assists. Kasey Beirnes had a hat trick for the Rock while Garrett Billings scored twice and added 4 assists to lead all scorers in the game. Aaron Bold made 37 saves to earn the win and was named the game’s first star, while Nick Rose made 42 saves in a losing effort.
The game started off with a bang: Rush captain Chris Corbeil and Rock faceoff man Scott Johnston got into a scrap just 20 seconds after the opening draw. It wasn’t a penalty-filled affair but both teams were potent when they did get a power play: Toronto was 3-for-4 with the man advantage and Edmonton was 3-for-5.
Toronto led 4-3 after the first quarter thanks to a pair of Beirnes goals sandwiched around a Matthews Marker in the last five minutes of the frame. The middle quarters saw stellar defence and goaltending, with only 5 goals in total being scored during that 30 minutes. It was 5-5 at the half and 6-6 after three quarters. The Rock opened the fourth quarter when Josh Sanderson ripped home a cross-body shot 1:28 in to take what would prove to be their final lead of the game. Edmonton answered with a 3-goal run started by Jarrett Davis, who scored a diving goal off a Loewen shot that ricocheted to him off the back boards just after Loewen cleared the far side of the crease and 25 seconds after Sanderson’s marker.
Jeremy Thompson had a big night in the faceoff circle, winning 18 of the 25 draws he took. He also contributed a huge goal to give the Rush the lead 8-7. He took the ball in the Edmonton zone, ran it up the floor and did his best Cody Jamieson impression, cutting just to his off side then ripping home a hard overhand from the high slot to make it 9-7.
The Rush got the next goal from Loewen and held on thanks in part to a Brett Mydske empty-netter in the final minute. Stephan Leblanc’s second of the game with 34 seconds to play made it a 1-goal game but the Rush were able to close it out to equal the best NLL start ever, matching the perfect 8-0 season of the legendary 1993 Buffalo Bandits team.
The Rock are right back at it tonight, heading to Calgary to take on the Roughnecks in a game that can be seen on ESPN3 and TSN2 at 9pm ET. The Rochester Knighthawks are in Colorado to take on the Mammoth, also at 9pm ET, and you can watch that game live via YouTube on The Lacrosse Network.
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