Rock, Swarm, Rush Prevail in Playoff Action

The second quarter was intense with both teams spending time in the penalty box. Colorado attempted to retaliate by increasing their shots on goal but Andrew Watt scored on a break away, his first of two for the night, during a Colorado power play. A Minnesota power play allowed Benesch to bury another shot for a hat trick, retiring the second quarter with a score of 8-5.

The game continued to heat up in the third quarter with a break away goal by transition player Tyler Hass. Colorado forward John Grant Jr. tired to fire up Colorado's offense, adding two goals of his own, but came up short. Forward Kevin Ross was able to score a second time, inducing a third quarter score of 10-7.

The win, which is Minnesota's first ever playoff victory, continues a streak of five straight wins. The Swarm will host Edmonton for the West Division Championship at Treasure Island Field at Xcel Energy Center next Saturday, May 12th at 8:30 p.m. CT and will be broadcast live on CBS Sports Network.

* * * *

Calgary After dropping eight consecutive games to their provincial rivals over the last two regular seasons, the Edmonton Rush won when it mattered most as Edmonton routed the Calgary Roughnecks 19-11 in the playoff version of the Battle of Alberta Saturday night in National Lacrosse League action before 11,161 fans at Scotiabank Saddledome.

The top two defensive clubs in the NLL fired up the offense in the all-Alberta West Division semifinal match-up as Ryan Ward paced the Rush with a five goal and six assist effort and Edmonton had contributions from all facets in the balanced scoring attack victory.

A six-goal outburst in the opening quarter by Edmonton gave the Rush the start it needed and the club's highly rated defense held the Roughnecks to only five goals in the second half to secure its second visit to the Divisional Final in three seasons.

Edmonton, who went 6-10 in the regular season, knocked off the top seeded Roughnecks (12-4) for the second time in as many playoff match-ups after the Rush bounced Calgary 11-7 in a divisional semifinal win in 2010.

"Timing is everything and we picked the right time to beat them," said Ward, who also had nine points in the post-season win over the Roughnecks two years ago. "We've peaked at the right time and everybody contributed and now it's off to Minnesota."

The Rush now meet the Minnesota Swarm in the West Final next Saturday at Xcel Energy Center and Toronto hosts Rochester in the East Final.

"It's a great feeling," said Rush head coach and general manger Derek Keenan after the win Saturday. "There's been a lot of frustration playing these guys (Calgary) over the past two years, especially dropping eight in a row.

"But, the first thing we addressed after watching the four games against these guys is we got outworked and outrun. We were really good in those areas tonight and we played very good on offense. We shot the ball well and executed and got some strong performances from Ryan Ward and all the offensive guys, really."

After Ward's 11 points, Edmonton had an eight-point night from Corey Small (5G, 3A) and potent outings from Tom Johnson (3G), Aaron Wilson (1G, 5A), Zack Greer (2G, 3A), Shawn Williams (1G, 4A) and singles from John Lafontaine and Jimmy Quinlan. Goaltender Aaron Bold stopped 39 of 50 shots in the win and added three assists.

"When we get contributions from all those guys, which we also saw a few weeks back in a victory over Colorado, a balanced attack really leads to our success," Keenan added. "And let's not forget a strong defensive effort and another excellent performance from Aaron Bold."

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2012-05-06



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