Saskatchewan Uses Fourth Quarter Run to Capture Third Title in Four Years

Photo Credit: Saskatchewan Rush

The Saskatchewan Rush held a two goal 10-8 lead over the Rochester Knighthawks entering the fourth quarter. They would go on a big run in the fourth to close out the game and secure the 2018 NLL Championship.

Defense was the name of the game and that was established very early on. We would see twelve minutes tick by until we saw the first goal of the game. That goal was scored by Josh Currier to put the Knighthawks up 1-0. That would be the score to end the first quarter as both defenses, as well a goalies, shut down the opposing offense. It was fast, fun, and physical lacrosse out there early on. That trend would continue throughout the game, but we would end up with a lot more scoring.

No team was really able to gain a ton of energy until the second quarter. The Saskatchewan Rush would score see four guys score four straight goals to start the second quarter. Jeff Shattler, Ben McIntosh, Ryan Keenan, and Chris Corbeil really got that Rush crowd booming as they went on that offensive hot streak. Also, the Rush defense continued it's success, as almost all four of those goal during that run were in transition. That is one area where Saskatchewan really showed prowess all night long.

Even with that four goal Saskatchewan run to start the second quarter Rochester would not be phased for long. The Knighthawks gained momentum as Joe Resetarits and Austin Shanks scored their first and only goals of the game in the second quarter. That would make it a one goal 4-3 Rush lead with 6:21 left in the first half.

Unfortunately for Rochester, their defense couldn't hold the Rush for too long as they would score the last two out three goals in the first half. Jeff Shattler would get his second goal on the day and Curtis Knight would notch his first. Rochester actually ended the half with a little more momentum as Cody Jameison would score his first of the night and cut the Rush lead to 6-4 with 2:33 in the half.
Saskatchewan would end the half with a lot of sucked out of the arena as Mark Matthews goal was called back after Rochester threw a challenge flag. It was ruled that Matthews stepped in the crease before the ball crossed the goal line. That really killed the Rush's momentum even though they entered halftime with a 6-4 lead over Rochester.

The second half would be even more exciting than the first. There was a lot of transition play, physicality, and offense. The SaskTel center was rocking and it truly did turn into the game of runs that we all know lacrosse can be. The second half was packed with more of that fast, fun, and physical lacrosse that we all know and love.

The start of the third quarter would very much reflect the first quarter. There was nothing but defense and goalies standing on their heads for the fist five minutes of the second half. It was very intense and ever shot had you on the edge of your seat, but each big hit and save had you jumping out of your seat.

We would finally see some offense as Josh Currier would get his second of the game and cut it to a one goal 6-5 Rush lead. Just over a minute later Saskatchewan would answer as Jeff Shattler completed a hat trick and put them back up by two. Rochester would not be silenced as they returned the favor by putting together a three goal run. Cody Jameison would start and end this run as Josh Currier also scored one as well. That little run gave them a huge boost of energy and an 8-7 lead with 5:17 in the third.

In life and in lacrosse nothing is ever out of the realm of possibilities no matter how much your back may be against the wall. Saskatchewan would again use their defense to build some good momentum. That momentum would help contribute to Jeff Shattler and Chris Corbeil scoring two straight goals to give them the lead back. That goal from Jeff Shattler would be his fourth of the game, as he was on fire all night. Marty Dinsdale would score the last goal of the quarter giving Saskatchewan a 10-8 lead heading into the final fifteen minutes of the NLL season.

Before that Dinsdale goal we had challenge from Rochetser after it appeared that a shot could have possibly gone over the goal line. The situation was that the goal had moved and the right post was over the white goal line. The ball went into the net, but because the goal had moved it did not cross the goal line. Also, at the angle that the player shot the ball it would have gone wide if the goal had not been hit and moved. That is why it was confirmed a no goal. The rule is that the ball has to cross the goal line no matter if the goal gets moved or not. Great call there by the officials.

Entering the fourth quarter it was still anyones game. The Rush were hanging on to a two goal 10-8 lead. The fourth started out very tight but ended up not being so down the stretch. Ben McIntosh would start the scoring in the fourth as he gave Saskatchewan an 11-9 lead with 12:52 in the fourth. It felt Saskatchewan could run away with the game right there, but then Rochester came storming.

 Eric Fannell and Josh Currier would score back-to-back goals within 30 seconds of each other to trim the Rush lead to 11-10 with 12:00 left. After that last goal where Currier cut it to one Saskatchewan would get a penalty for to many men on the floor. That penalty almost cost them a lot as Rochester had a one minute poweplay. Saskatchewan's defense dug in and held onto that lead while man-down for a minute. I know as that powerplay expired many Rush fans stopped holding their breath.

The Rush would close out the game very strong. Evan Kirk would hold his own in goal as he became a brick wall in the last seven or so minutes of the game. Saskatchewan would go on a four goal run to end the game. Curtis Knight, Ryan Keenan, Marty Dinsdale, and Chris Corbeil would all find firepower late in the game. Again, most of the energy on offense came off of Rochester turnovers and big saves by Evan Kirk.

The final goal of the game came with 2:33 left as Saskatchewan got a fast break right as Rochester goalie Matt Vinc was gunning for the bench to get another player on the floor. Vinc would have to sprint back to the goal but Chris Corbeil would get the ball and beat Vinc as he scored on a completely open net. That would be the dagger that sealed the victory for the Rush.

The Saskatchewan Rush are the 2018 NLL champions as they captured their third title in four years. That is pretty incredible. Jeff Shattler won NLL Finals MVP after his four goal performance tonight, as well as an overall total of 8 goals and 7 assist in the playoffs. Shattler isn't a household name brand star like Mark Matthews or some other guys, but he stepped up when his team needed him the most. That in itself shows the next man up mentality that makes this team so special.