Rush edge Mammoth, advance to NLL championship

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May 21, 2017 - 12:33am
Rookie defenseman Mike Messenger scored the eventual game winner as the Saskatchewan Rush beat Colorado 11-10 to advance to the NLL's Champion's Cup final.
Saskatchewan Rush/GetMyPhoto.ca
Rookie defenseman Mike Messenger scored the eventual game winner as the Saskatchewan Rush beat Colorado 11-10 to advance to the NLL's Champion's Cup final.

For a third straight season, and second in Saskatoon, the Saskatchewan Rush are off to the NLL's Champions Cup final.

The Rush emerged in a tight defensive battle to beat the Colorado Mammoth 11-10 in game two to sweep the West Division Final 2-0.

Mike Messenger was the unlikely hero. The rookie defenseman picked up a loose ball in his own end and chugged through several Mammoth defenders before slotting the ball in the far corner.

It would end up being the game winner.

"I thought I could take him 1-on-1 but then saw he was already on the ground so I thought I had a chance for a goal," Messenger said, quite happy to have a shot at the title in his first NLL season.

"I knew we had a shot this year and just to have that opportunity with all these guys is great."

A defenseman scoring the winning goal was a fitting cap to the contest, played in front of over 14,000 towel-waving fans in Saskatoon. Both teams were in shutdown mode early as the first goal for either team came 8:15 into the contest. By the end of the first half, it was tied 4-4.

"Three one-goal games in the regular season and tonight, sure enough, was a one-goal game and they played right to the end," Rush head coach Derek Keenan said.

Mark Matthews paced the offense with two goals and six points. Robert Church and Ben McIntosh added a pair of their own. Ryan Keenan, Adam Jones and Matt Dinsdale joined Messenger with singles.

Aaron Bold made 32 saves in the win as the Rush outshot Colorado 48-42.

The win means the stage is set for the 2017 Champions Cup final. Saskatchewan will take on the Georgia Swarm, who beat Toronto 13-9 in a series-clinching win on Saturday. 

The best of three championship series gets underway Sunday, June 4 in Georgia.