Nine-goal fourth vaults Thunderbirds over Rush

Apr 16, 2023

SASKATOON, Sask (April 15, 2023) -- Heading into the final 15 minutes on Saturday night down by three goals, the Halifax Thunderbirds (8-8) led a feverish comeback on the road, beating the Saskatchewan Rush (6-10) 15-11 at SaskTel Centre. 

Randy Staats came up with one of his best outings of the season, finishing with nine points. He had all three of his goals in the final frame and his five-point fourth helped carry his team to their eighth win on the campaign. 

The Thunderbirds also got big offensive outings from Clarke Petterson (4G, 2A), Austin Shanks (6A), and Ryan Benesch (4G).

Warren Hill also made 34 saves en route to his seventh win of the year. 

The game opened with the hosts hopping out to a quick 3-0 lead. Clark Walter opened the scoring on the power play, and Robert Church followed up just 45 seconds later with a second. Dan Lintner made it a trio at the 11:52 mark, leaving Halifax with an early hole to climb out of. 

Two straight from Petterson and Benesch got the Birds back into the game quickly. Mike Messenger capped off the opening quarter with a transition marker, making it 4-2 Rush through one. 

Saskatchewan had an answer for every Halifax goal through the middle portion of the game. The Thunderbirds got within a goal on three separate occasions between the third and fourth, but they couldn’t break through to knot things up.

Goals from Cody Jamieson and Dawson Theede were matched by Church and Holden Garlent in the second, sending the Rush into the half with a 6-4 lead. They’d outscore Halifax 3-2 in the third to make it 9-6 going into the fourth.

The return of draw man Jake Withers was felt down the stretch of the game, as he capped off his 30-for-31 night with several key wins in the fourth to keep his team in possession of the ball. 

Benesch and Matthews traded goals to open the fourth. But from that point, Halifax flexed its muscles and took control. A five-goal run was highlighted by a sequence that saw a transition save from Warren Hill turn into a Staats goal just seconds later at the other end. That swing goal gave Halifax its first lead of the night. Petterson notched his fourth just 27 seconds later to cap the huge offensive outburst, and the Birds wouldn’t look back from there.

Matthews added his second of the quarter but was immediately met with goals from Staats and Colton Armstrong, who added the dagger after scooping the ball off the defensive stop and finishing at the other end in transition. Staats completed his hat trick with an empty netter off the ensuing draw to put the game to bed. 

Halifax moves to 8-8 on the season with the victory. They’ll return home in a week’s time for their final regular-season home game of the year against the New York Riptide. The third and final showdown between the teams this season is the NLL Game of the Week on TSN and Fan Appreciation Night at The Nest. Face-off is slated for 7:00 p.m. AT. 

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