The Saskatchewan Rush were the first team in the National Lacrosse League (NLL) to clinch a spot in the playoffs. But back in January, they started 0-2 and their loss to the Georgia Swarm cost them first place overall.
“There’s really no excuse for how we’re playing right now, nothing’s going our way. We’re just not playing with enough speed and every aspect is not clicking right now,” Rush forward Mark Matthews said at practice on Jan. 20.
READ MORE: Curtis Dickson leads Calgary Roughnecks past Saskatchewan Rush 14-7
Then the team turned things around, averaging almost 15,000 fans a home game. Saskatchewan went on to 8-1 record at SaskTel Centre, the best home record in the league.
“At a certain point you just have to sit back and appreciate how great the fan support is. It’s really cool,” Rush captain Chris Corbeil said after their home opener with the Rochester Knighthawks.
After going 13-5 in their inaugural NLL season in Saskatoon, the Rush went 12-6 this year as head coach Derek Keenan became the league’s all-time leader in coaching victories.
“We’ve won a lot of games the last four or five years, certainly the credit goes to the players and my assistant coaches and the organization as a whole,” Keenan said.
“You don’t get to this milestone without good people around you and I’ve got a whole bunch of them.”
READ MORE: Rookie Saskatchewan Rush defender turning heads with pinpoint shooting prowess
The team is keeping close tabs on the West Division semifinal between the Vancouver Stealth and the Colorado Mammoth, as they take on the winner in the second round of playoffs.
“I think we got a lot of people who are banged up and probably need this bye week more than anybody I’ve probably ever met. We’re just happy and thrilled to have home floor the whole way,” Rush forward Mark Matthews said.
The Rush begin their campaign for a third-straight NLL title in as many years in a two-game Western Final series on May 13.
General public tickets for Game 2 on May 20 at SaskTel Centre go on sale May 8.