Saturday, 1 December 2018

Pumped Rush and NLL avoid stoppage, will play in 2018-19

The Rush celebrate an NLL title win last June.
    If the Saskatchewan Rush didn’t play in 2018-19, it would have felt like something was missing.
    For a large chunk of November, the National Lacrosse Association and the Professional Lacrosse Players Association were trying to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement. At times, there was loud talk that the negotiations were going so bad the 2018-19 NLL season could be lost.
    I am sure some fans were starting to decide where else they would spend their free time and disposable income. The may have included going to other sporting events, nice dinners at fancy restaurants, movies and concerts.
    In my own individual life, I knew I wouldn’t be deeply impacted, if the Rush didn’t play.
Captain Chris Corbeil lifts the Champion’s Cup in June of 2016.
    Fears of losing the season were erased on Nov. 24, when the NLL and PLPA reached a new collective bargaining agreement that is five years in length.
    The Rush, who are the defending NLL champions, will play a full 18-game regular season. They open the regular season on the road on Dec. 28 traveling to Uncasville, Connecticut, to play the New England Black Wolves.
    The Rush open the regular season on Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019 at 7:30 p.m. at the SaskTel Centre against the expansion San Diego Seals.
    Saskatchewan hosts an exhibition game on Saturday, Dec. 8 at 7:30 p.m. at the SaskTel Centre against their archrivals the Calgary Roughnecks.
    I admit I am not enough of a hard core lacrosse follower to know all the ends and outs of the struggles of what went into the negotiations that resulted in the new collective bargaining agreement between the NLL and PLPA.
Captain Chris Corbeil lifts the NLL Cup last June.
    Now that the NLL season will go on, there was a sense of being pumped up that there will be Rush games to go to. For myself, I was happy to have Rush games to look forward to.
    It hit me that it would have felt like something was lost, if the Rush didn’t play.
    During the three complete seasons the Rush have played in Saskatoon taking on a provincial tag as the Saskatchewan Rush, they have become a team the whole province supports. The nights the Rush clinched the NLL title at the SaskTel Centre in 2016 and 2018 are two of the top moments in that building’s history, and I was fortunate enough to be present for both of those games.
    When Rush defender Jeff Cornwall went coast-to-coast to score the NLL championship winning goal with 12 seconds to play to break a 10-10 tie with the Buffalo Bandits and give the Rush an 11-10 victory on June 4, 2016, the sellout crowd of 15,182 spectators at the SaskTel Centre erupted like they have never erupted before.
The scene after Jeff Cornwall scored the NLL title winning goal in 2016.
    For myself, that was the loudest I have ever seen the fans cheer in that building.
    Many fans go for the party, and why not. The Rush put on an enjoyable show around the game.
    For the game itself, it is easy to get addicted to the non-stop action of an NLL lacrosse game.
    Rush owner Bruce Urban and his front office staff are a stellar group. They help set the tone for what you see on game day.
    Head coach and general manager Derek Keenan is an outstanding man. He is a kind and understanding forward-thinking coach, and it will take you spending less than five minutes with his to realize why the Rush have won three of the last four NLL titles including their final campaign based in Edmonton, Alta.
Rush forward Matthew Dinsdale is set to score on this circus shot.
    The Rush have been strong in getting their players out in the community across Saskatchewan, and they are a terrific group of young men. Knowing that individuals like captain Chris Corbeil, fan favourite Jeremy Thompson, Mark Matthews, Ryan Keenan, Robert Church, Cornwall, Ben McIntosh and Evan Kirk will be back in the community makes the cold winter feel that much warmer.
    It will be cool to see the new ways star forward Jeff Shattler holds court in the humour department in the upcoming campaign.
    Rush fans will also get to see mascot Bruiser the Bulldog, Rush Hulk and the Original 16 Crush Dance Team making appearances all over the place too. They all add their significant parts to Rush Nation.
Grandma Rush’s sign says it all.
    Of course, Rush games wouldn’t be complete without the passionate support of the club’s top fan in Grandma Rush.
    There is so much to look forward to now that the Rush season will go ahead. Let the games and the defence of the NLL title begin.

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