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Il Indoor: Matthews Leads Rush To First Cup

The 2015 National Lacrosse League season is in the books after the Edmonton Rush won its first-ever title, the 29th championship in the history of the league, by downing the Toronto Rock with an 11-10 home win on Friday night. Recap the memorable night by checking out a preview of Stephen Stamp’s breakdown on Inside Lacrosse via IL Indoor.

“The Edmonton Rush have been building towards a National Lacrosse League championship for a decade,” Stamp writes. “Friday night, thanks to a late seeing-eye goal from trade-deadline acquisition Matthew Dinsdale, they earned one with an 11-10 win over the Toronto Rock that gave them a 2-0 sweep of the league’s first best-of-three final.

Dinsdale put an exclamation point on the rejuvenation of his career since coming over from Calgary by firing a shot from the high slot that somehow found its way through a handful of players and goalie Brandon Miller with 1:02 to play, spoiling what had been a sensational bounceback performance by the Toronto goalie after he was shaky in Game 1. The hero for Edmonton, though, was Mark Matthews. The first overall pick in the 2012 draft has been ascending towards superstart status and cemented his position as one of the best in the game with a 5-goal, 3-asssist virtuoso performance that made his being named the series MVP a no-brainer.

The game went back and forth throughout, with neither team taking more than a two-goal lead. Edmonton wound up ahead 5-4 going into the intermission thanks to Matthews scoring the last two goals of the first half. The tying goal came when Kyle Rubisch cleanly intercepted a pass for the third time in the game, ran it up floor a few steps then hit Matthews with a long pass that he converted on a bounce shot at 10:26. The last goal of the half was a dramatic one. Edmonton pulled goalie Aaron Bold to give them a 6-on-4 advantage with Toronto’s Josh Sandersonserving a holding the stick penalty. Matthews streaked down the slot, took a pass and buried a perfectly placed shot with one tenth of a second to play.

Matthews got another power play goal to open the second half. After the teams traded goals, Toronto went on a three-goal run that put them ahead 8-7. Robert Church ripped home his second of the game to tie things up and that’s the way things stood heading into the fourth quarter.

Edmonton got a huge opportunity when Damon Edwards took a 5-minute boarding major for ramming Dinsdale into the boards from behind at 4:09 of the fourth. But was Rob Hellyer, who had 2 goals and 4 assists to lead the Rock, who spun off a check from Adrian Sorichetti and fired home a rocket for a shorthanded goal that gave Toronto its sixth lead of the game. Unfortunately for Rock fans who had visions of the team forcing a Game 3 back in Toronto and a chance at the team’s seventh championship, it would also be their last lead. 

Matthews took a feed from Ben McIntosh and slipped home a quick-release shot a minute and a half after Hellyer’s tally to tie things back up at 9-9 at 7:32. The tables were turned when Dinsdale was called for a debatable boarding penalty at nine minutes even and Toronto went to the power play.

John Lintz picked off a pass with his stick extended in one hand and managed to hold on to the ball as he accelerated away from a couple of Rock players to create a 2-on-1 with Matthews coming off the bench thanks to the quck thinking and feet of Jeff Cornwall, who sprinted off for the change. Lintz waited until Brodie Merrill had to commit to coming over to check him and snuck a pass across the crease to Matthews, who accepted the pass and leapt into the air for a masterful dip and dunk goal over a fully extended Miller. 

It was a truly spectacular shorthanded goal to put Edmonton up 10-9 at the 10:28 mark. The Rock weren’t done, though, and they kept pressing. Leading the charge was Colin Doyle, showing the most bounce in his game since…

Click here to read the full story by Stephen Stamp on IL Indoor. Photo by Dale MacMillan.