‘Right the ship’: Saskatchewan Rush looking to turn around season Saturday against Panther City

PHOTO BY MICHELLE BERG /Saskatoon StarPhoenix. Saskatchewan Rush during NLL action against the Vancouver Warriors at SaskTel Centre on Jan. 20, 2024.

Darren Zary, Saskatoon StarPhoenix

The Saskatchewan Rush and their faithful fans will be looking to turn this season around.

With general manager Derek Keenan back behind the bench to help Jimmy Quinlan as a co-coach, the Rush will host the Panther City Lacrosse Club on Saturday night as the team looks to salvage its National Lacrosse League season.

Game-time is 7 p.m. at SaskTel Centre.

Saskatchewan has struggled out of the gate this season with a 1-4 record thus far, relieving Bruce Alexander of his duties as offensive co-ordinator. Keenan will act as co-head coach for the remainder of the season.

“I owe it to the players, our staff, our fan base and ownership, to do whatever it takes to turn this ship in the right direction,” said Keenan, whose team’s lone win this season came against the Las Vegas Desert Dogs in Vegas. “We are very close, but close isn’t good enough in the NLL.”

Panther City comes into Saskatoon with a 3-3 record. The Texas club ranks No. 5 in the NLL power rankings this week.

Leading the Rush this season is newcomer Zack Manns, along with veterans Robert Church, Ryan Keenan and Mike Messenger.

Panther City is led by veteran forward Callum Crawford. When Panther City topped the Las Vegas Desert Dogs last weekend, Crawford set the league record with 12 first half points (six goals, six assists). He finished with 14 points, including a season-NLL high of eight goals, to earn NLL Player of the Week in the process.

Meanwhile, teammate Will Malcom posted 14 points on four goals and 10 helpers.

NLL milestones in reach

Saskatchewan forward Patrick Dodds needs three assists to reach 100 in his NLL career, while Rush goaltender Frank Scigliano needs 31 saves to reach 4,000 in his career in the NLL.

Panther City forward Callum Crawford needs three goals to pass Shawn Evans for ninth place, all-time in the NLL, with 480.

Former Rush forward Mark Matthews, now with the Toronto Rock, passed Rhys Duch for 12th on the NLL all-time list with 619 assists after distributing two versus Buffalo. Matthews needs four assists to pass Gavin Prout for 11th on the all-time list with 622.

Coming up this month

There are three games on the NLL schedule for the Rush during the month of February, starting with Saturday’s tilt against Panther City.

The Rush will head to Vancouver to play the Warriors on Feb. 10, followed by a home game Feb. 24 against the Halifax Thunderbirds.