Folks, they did it. The Saskatchewan Rush have brought home the National Lacrosse League Champion’s Cup. A breakaway goal by Jeff Cornwall with 12 seconds left sealed up a 11-10 win over the Buffalo Bandits to clinch the title, and they blew the roof off of SaskTel Centre. It was a great series, with both games coming right down to the wire. Tomorrow, the big victory celebration happens in downtown Saskatoon.
All this for a team and a sport, lacrosse, that most locals knew absolutely nothing about a year earlier.
This weekend was surely the greatest occasion in the history of sports in Saskatoon. Fortunately, it was a calm scene after the game, no reports of rioting on 8th Street or any of that. The Rush have only been in Saskatoon a short period of time but they have already won over the community. You see the Rush logo now on billboards and flags, and even on the taxi cabs all over the city.
As for the Rush, what a job they have done. They have truly raised the bar for every sports franchise in the province for how to be a successful franchise — not only on the field but off it as well, with their sellout crowds. It truly morphed into a “happening”. Moreover, the Rush injected a dose of “fun” back into the fan experience of going to sporting events in the wheat and potash province. Too often in Saskatchewan – even at ‘Riders games – fans go to the stadium or arena to be miserable. Not with this Rush team. They win too often for that.
The atmosphere in the arena was so wild and raucous, in fact, that the place ended up known as #SaskVegas. It was totally different from the atmosphere for Blades games or any other sports event there.
The party that lasted all NLL season at SaskTel Centre is now going to last all off-season, too, for Rush fans. And it had better, because it appears the Saskatchewan Roughriders are going to have another nothing season like the last one. They held their Green-White scrimmage game in Saskatoon on the weekend, right before the Rush game, and the play was so awful that coach and GM Chris Jones said he wanted to throw up.
Oh, well, at least we have one Cup to cheer about.