$20K raised as Saskatchewan Rush hold off Halifax Thunderbirds in DND appreciation night thriller

The Halifax Thunderbirds battled it out with the Saskatchen Rush at the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax on Feb. 15, 2020. Trevor MacMillan/Halifax Thunderbirds

The Saskatchewan Rush held off the Halifax Thunderbirds on Saturday in what was one of the most exciting games of the Thunderbirds’ inaugural season on Canada’s east coast.

The Rush won 16-15 in overtime, becoming the first team to leave Halifax with a victory this season.

But the game marked another occasion as the Thunderbirds hosted a Department of National Defence appreciation night at the Scotiabank Centre.

Chris Corbeil of the Saskatchewan Rush and Cody Jamieson of the Halifax Thunderbirds pose with Canadian Armed Forces officials and Jim Lowther and Debbie Lowther of VETS Canada. Trevor MacMillan/Halifax Thunderbirds

Both teams sported military-themed jerseys to mark the occasion, which were later auctioned off in support of Veterans Emergency Transition Services (VETS) Canada, a Halifax-based organization focused on preventing homelessness among veterans.

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The Thunderbirds say more than $20,000 was raised as part of the auction, with the largest bid coming in at $1,500 for the jersey of the Thunderbirds’ Ryan Benesch.

READ MORE: Halifax Thunderbirds focus on legacy as they kick off inaugural season

The first three-quarters of the game were dominated by an offensive onslaught from Saskatchewan with goals from Matthew Dinsdal, Ben McIntosh and Ryan Keenan giving the Rush an early four-goal lead.

It wasn’t until Graeme Hossack scored in the second quarter that the Thunderbirds got on the board.

But the Rush poured on the pressure, scoring three more goals to extend their lead 7-1.

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Austin Shanks stepped up for Halifax in the closing moments of the second quarter, scoring twice in 16 seconds to bring the Thunderbirds a much-needed momentum boost heading into the half.

The teams rallied back and forth throughout the next quarter ending it with a score of 13-7.

An early goal from McIntosh saw the Rush extend their lead to 14-8 to start off the fourth quarter. But fans who headed to the exits early missed a stunning comeback by the Thunderbirds.

Halifax dug deep with a goal each from Shanks and Clarke Petterson and a pair from Scott Campbell cutting the lead down to two.

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan Rush come out of bye-weeks ready to put in work'
Saskatchewan Rush come out of bye-weeks ready to put in work

Shanks came through for the team once again, tying the game at 15-15 with 25 seconds left on the clock.

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The game headed into dramatic overtime as the Thunderbirds and the Rush each had a goal waved off by the officials.

A final goal from Saskatchewan’s’ Mike Messenger would bring the game to a close, 16-15.

More than $20,000 was raised as part of the DND appreciation night hosted by the Halifax Thunderbirds. Trevor MacMillan/Halifax Thunderbirds

The Rush have now climbed to a 5-2 record to sit at the top of the West Division.

The Thunderbirds have dropped two games in a row after opening the season on a 6-0 run. They’ll attempt to turn things around on Friday as they host the Toronto Rock after suffering their first loss on the road.

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