Zack Greer had four goals and four assists as the Rush took a step closer to securing their first home playoff spot in franchise history with a 14-10 victory over the defending NLL champion Rochester Knighthawks.
The win improved the Rush’s home record to just 2-5.
“We accomplished a lot today,” said Rush head coach and GM Derek Keenan. “We dug ourselves in a bit of a hole early, which is tough to explain, but we really stuck with our game plan and eventually it paid off.
“We regrouped and got a couple of power-play goals that got us back in and went from there.”
Jarrett Davis added four goals to go with two assists for the Rush (9-6), who moved into sole possession of first place in the NLL West, one game up on both Washington and Calgary.
Alex Turner had two goals for Edmonton, with Corey Small, Mark Matthews, Curtis Knight and Cory Conway also scoring.
“We got off to a slow start, but the defence settled in and once we got a hold of things, we got back to our game plan,” Davis said. “We knew they were tired (having played in Calgary on Saturday night) so we just wanted to stick with it.”
Stephen Keogh, Dan Dawson and Joe Walters all had two-goal games for the Knighthawks (7-8), who have lost two of their last three.
Dawson, for one, was thoroughly disgusted by his team’s play in the game.
“We didn’t show up to play today,” he said. “Our decision-making was terrible. We were taking stupid penalties and throwing the ball away and we don’t have any trust in each other. We lost to a better team that puts the ball in the back of the net when it gets second chances. We just need to be smarter.”
Mike Accursi, Cory Vitarelli, Johnny Powless and Cody Jamieson also scored for Rochester.
“We were very undisciplined,” said Hawks coach Mike Hasen. “Their speed created a lot of that. We had times where we matched their speed, but there were quite a few times that we just didn’t and that’s when we got in trouble. Their power play is dynamite. We got caught in the second half. We are not a rookie team and the guys in this room know that they screwed up and will be better for it next week.”
Rochester started the scoring three minutes in as Powless made a beautiful behind-the-back pass in front to Keogh, who beat a surprised Aaron Bold in the Edmonton net.
The Hawks were up 4-0 on just five shots on net by the midmark of the opening frame on goals by Accursi, Dawson and Vitarelli. Brodie MacDonald came in to replace Bold in the Rush net.
MacDonald would finish with 32 saves on 38 shots.
“He’s been basically sitting on the bench for two years and he came in tonight and showed that he's a really good goalie,” Keenan said. “We’ve got a lot of confidence in him and it gives the whole team confidence looking forward that we've got two really great goalies.”
The move seemed to spark Edmonton, which roared back with two power-play goals on Knighthawks goalie Matt Vinc by Small and Greer to make it 4-2 after the first.
Momentum continued to reverse course in the second quarter as the Rush tied the game 4-4 on Greer's second of the game followed by a goal six minutes in by Davis.
Rochester was frustrated late in the second as it had two goals called back on crease violations and hit a post to keep the game tied at the half.
Edmonton took its first lead two minutes into the third quarter on the second of the night by Davis, a former Knighthawk.
Rochester got one back before the Rush went ahead 7-5 on quick goals by Davis and Matthews.
The teams traded goals twice late in the third before Turner scored his second of the contest to make it 10-7 for Edmonton heading into the fourth quarter.
The Rush came flying out to start the final quarter as Greer scored his hat trick goal and Davis his fourth of the game to make it 12-7.
Rochester scored two quick goals midway through the fourth to make it interesting, but Greer scored his fourth of the game with four minutes left to make it 13-9 and put the game out of reach.
Both teams close out regular season play next Saturday as the Rush play host to the Calgary Roughnecks and the Knighthawks travel to Buffalo.
Notes: It was just the sixth all-time meeting between the two teams, with Edmonton holding a 3-2 edge coming in to the game. Of course, the biggest win in the overall series belongs to Rochester, who came back from a 5-1 deficit in last years National Lacrosse League championship game to defeat the Rush 9-6. Edmonton won the previous meeting in Rochester this year 11-9. ... Edmonton 2012 first overall draft pick Mark Matthews tied the club record for most goals in a single season. Chris Gill currently shares the mark of 37 set in 2006... The Rush set franchise record for shots on net and goals in a season in the game.