Saskatchewan Rush clinch 3rd NLL championship in 4 years

Saskatchewan Rush forward Jeff Shattler celebrates with the National Lacrosse League Cup after defeating the Rochester Knighthawks in Saskatoon on Saturday, June 9, 2018. The Rush are the 2018 NLL Champions after defeating the Knighthawks 15-10. Liam Richards / The Canadian Press

The Saskatchewan Rush are again the best team in the National Lacrosse League (NLL).

The Rush downed the Rochester Knighthawks 15-10 on Saturday to clinch their third league championship in four years.

Jeff Shattler led the way with four goals on the night. He ended up with eight goals in the three-game series, and was named playoff MVP.

“I’ve been waiting for this feeling for a while,” said Shattler, who joined the team in the off-season as a free agent after spending 11 years with the Calgary Roughnecks.

“We worked hard all season and we deserve it. We played well in front of this great crowd. I love playing in front of this crowd – the best fans in the league.”

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Head coach and general manager Derek Keenan said they were able to take advantage of playing the deciding game at home.

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“It was a grinder of a game, but I think we maybe had a little more gas in the tank. I really believe we earned this,” said Keenan, who has now won nine league titles – three as a player, three as an assistant coach and three as a head coach.

“We were focused from the first day of training camp on winning this championship. Mission accomplished.”

Captain Chris Corbeil had a hat trick, while Ben McIntosh, Ryan Keenan, Curtis Knight and Matthew Dinsdale each scored twice.

Mark Matthews, who set a league record for assists in a season, had eight helpers in the win.

The Knighthawks were led by Josh Currier with four goals. Cody Jamieson, with a hat trick, plus a single from Joe Resetarits and a shorthanded marker from Austin Shanks rounded out the scoring for Rochester.

The Rush’s Evan Kirk and Matt Vinc for the Knighthawks each turned away 37 shots in goal.

The Knighthawks were searching for their first NLL title since 2014. They started the 2018 campaign at 2-6 before rallying to finish the regular season with a 10-8 record and advancing to the NLL title series in the playoffs.

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“It is an awful feeling right now, but where these guys were, you can’t say enough about their compete-level and what they do for each other,” said Knighthawks head coach Mike Hasen.

“I think this one is special because we weren’t supposed to be here. These guys were supposed to win. I think we pushed them to the limit as much as we could.”

Corbeil said beating the Knighthawks was a bit of revenge from 2012 when the Knighthawks beat the Rush in a one-game championship match.

“It feels like the same group from 2012, tweaks here and there, but it’s a really good group,” said Corbeil.

-With files from The Canadian Press

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