Lakers Church leads Rush to fourth straight win

Robert Church is in a Rush to put the defending two-time champions back on top.

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="400"]church5 Robert Church earned his second first-star nod following an 11-point night for the Saskatchewan Rush last Saturday. Garrett James photo[/caption]

The Saskatchewan Rush right-hander garnered a season-high 11 points, including four goals, to help the visitors claim a 21-12 victory over the Rochester Knighthawks last Saturday.

The win, Saskatchewan's fourth in a row following an uncharacteristic 0-2 start, kept the Rush in first place in the National Lacrosse League West Division half a game ahead of the Colorado Mammoth.

Church tallied a goal and four assists in the opening half but Saskatchewan trailed Rochester 8-7 heading into the third quarter.

The Rush gave up the first goal of the second half off the opening faceoff but replied with six unanswered goals in the frame to take a commanding lead.

Church helped get the rally started, setting up teammate Mark Matthews for his third of four markers on the night. Church also set up Matthew Dinsdale for what turned out to be the game-winning tally midway through the third quarter.

In the final stanza, Church wasted no time putting the game out of reach, scoring twice, including his league-best 12th power play goal, and helping out with a third in the opening four minutes of the frame. Church also scored his fourth of the night later in the period with his first shorthanded goal of the year.

The 11-point performance gave Church his second first-star selection of the season and top spot in the NLL among all runners with a total of 13 three-star points to date.

Church also leads the league in shooting percentage with a sparkling .315 scoring ratio, tallying 17 goals on 46 attempts at goal. Church is currently tied for eighth place in overall scoring with 36 points after six games.

Rush defender Nik Bilic, with six loose balls, and Matthews, with four goals and 10 points, also contributed to the win two days before they were both picked up by the Burnaby Lakers in a Monday morning Western Lacrosse Association trade.

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="200"]Nik_Bilic-J1D44927 Nik Bilic of Burnaby was also part of the players-for-picks trade. Saskatchewan Rush photo[/caption][caption id="" align="alignright" width="200"]Mark_Matthews-J1D44906 Mark Matthews was picked up in trade with the Langley Thunder. Saskatchewan Rush photo[/caption]

Elsewhere, Laker lefthander Eli McLaughlin collected four helpers, including an assist on the game-winning goal in overtime, that gave the visiting Colorado Mammoth a 10-9 come-from-behind victory over the Vancouver Stealth at the Langley Events Centre on Sunday.

Lakers Justin Salt and Pete McFetridge helped out the Stealth with nine loose balls and a goal in transition, respectively. Former Laker Tye Belanger took the loss in goal but was still named first star with a 43-save performance.