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  • ReLaxing Luke

How the Saskatchewan Rush Converted me into their Fandom

Mark Matthews most likely celebrating how awesome he is...

This past Saturday, I dragged my dad with me to an NLL game. We drove up to Denver listening to the Auburn v Virginia basketball game (Auburn got robbed by the refs) and arrived an hour early. That night the Colorado Mammoth were hosting the Saskatchewan Rush. Now I can’t consider myself an avid Mammoth fan as I don’t cheer for one specific NLL team. I cheer for all teams to do well to help the growth of the game. For instance, this season I’ve been cheering for Georgia, Vancouver, Philly, and San Diego. The first two have the lowest attendance in the NLL while the latter are new additions (so I want them to succeed early to bring in more fans). Basically, I cheer for good lacrosse. This admittance aside, I came in cheering for the Mammoth since they were the home team. Little did I know I would be undergoing a fan transformation as epic as the Soviets cheering on Rocky in front of Gorbachev (Rocky IV).

When we found our seats and watched warmups, something became glaringly obvious. The Rush were massive compared to the Mammoth. I looked up team rosters and noticed almost everyone on the Rush weighed 200+ while Colorado was mostly made of guys sub 200. I predicted to my father that the Mammoth would have a tough time scoring on the Rush with all that size hogging up field space. I was right. Size is a huge advantage in box lacrosse, where space is limited. In field, it’s easier to utilize work arounds for teams larger than you.

Opening faceoff occurred and it dawned on me how cool it was to see so many lacrosse stars in person. I knew who Mark Matthews and Jeremy Thompson were, but it was another thing entirely to see them in person. Thompson played well, but I don’t remember as much about him. Matthews, on the other hand, I remember well. He was a beast.

I now understand why Matthews is considered one of the best. He reminded me a lot of Malkin (NHL player on Pittsburgh Penguins) with how he uses his body, showed incredible effort, and set everything up on offense. Everything ran through Matthews. The two best plays from Matthews follow. The first occurred when the Rush missed a shot and the ball rolled towards a Mammoth player who picked it up and streaked towards the net. It looked like it would be an easy fast break goal when out of nowhere Matthews, who looked like he was jogging with his massive stride, caught up and got in front of the Mammoth player. This play eventually led to a shot clock violation on the Mammoth. The second play occurred late in the game. Here Matthews took a high shot, had the ball bounce back to him, scooped it up and bulldozed his way to the net for a goal. It wasn’t even fair for the defensemen who had to cover him. He was unstoppable.

Besides Matthews, the Rush dominated the entire game. The Rush have a great offense and defense, while the Mammoth have a good defense but a putrid offense. I love great defense (I’m a d pole) but the Colorado offense didn’t even challenge Saskatchewan. It took until the fifth Colorado goal for them to get a non-garbage goal. By the third quarter, I was bored when Colorado had the ball and couldn’t help but cheer when Saskatchewan would predictably stop them and take the ball down the field.

One side note is the Rush played a cleaner brand of lacrosse. The Colorado players consistently dropped uncontested passes while Rush players rarely did this. Their one-handed checks were also well executed. Usually, a one-handed check does nothing, but it seemed like each one a Rush player threw resulted in a turnover.

Besides the better play by Saskatchewan, there was another factor in my change of heart. You see, the Rush have a super fan who dresses up as the Hulk. This guy was absolutely hilarious. Sorry Wooly the Mammoth, but this guy was a better mascot than you, and he ain’t even the official mascot (I still love you though Wooly!).

Throughout the night, the cameras would pan towards the Hulk to show him on the jumbotron. Then the crowd would begin to boo him. Wooly the Mammoth even poured popcorn on him. I simply found it hilarious how the Hulk would flex when everyone would boo him. It was so corny and fun. The Hulk played the villain role tremendously well and you could tell he had fun playing the bad guy. Lacrosse needs more super fans like the Hulk.

Mix together the bad play from Colorado, the superb play from Matthews and co, and a hilarious unofficial Rush mascot, and I couldn’t help cheering for the Rush. Like I said earlier, I cheer for good lacrosse. The Rush provided that, while the Mammoth did not. The best part about Colorado was their dance team, the Wild Bunch, who unlike the lacrosse team, never look ugly on the field. I now know how the Soviets watching Rocky vs Ivan felt when they began cheering for Rocky in Rocky IV. The home team was boring while the foreign one was full of heart and energy. For all the joy the Rush provided me, I would like to thank them, and let them know they officially have a fan in me.

Like this article? Hated it? Think I should cheer on the Rush? Or am I a lame bandwagon? Let me know by connecting with me on Instagram (logical_lacrosse) and Twitter (Logical_Lacrosse). Thank you so much for the support and hope you enjoyed!

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