ST. PAUL, Minn. - One word could sum up Edmonton's late-season surge and current playoff run: Bold.
Goaltender Aaron Bold has been solid for the Rush since they acquired him in trade at the 2012 National Lacrosse League entry draft. On Saturday night in St. Paul, he was simply brilliant.
After upsetting top-seeded Calgary last week, Edmonton rolled over Minnesota 15-3 in the West Division final at Xcel Energy Center. Bold stopped 39 of 42 shots for the victory.
At one point, the goaltender went 37:50 without allowing a goal -- a lifetime in the lacrosse world.
"He's incredible. The best goalie in the league," Rush assistant captain Ryan Ward said. "He's our backbone and we're here because of him."
The Rush started the season 2-7, but now with Bold's help they are one win away from their first NLL title. They will travel to Rochester, N.Y., to face the Knighthawks in next Saturday's final.
Bold appeared calm, cool and collected in the West final as he stuffed Swarm attackers point-blank. His defence was rock solid, but Minnesota generated several good looks and scoring chances, most of which were quelled with minimal rebounds.
"I thought our defence was outstanding. We really executed the system very well," Rush head coach Derek Keenan said. "But when we had breakdowns and they have some guys that can make plays, he was there. He made some outstanding saves."
Leading up to Saturday's game, Keenan stressed the importance of limiting Minnesota's offensive outbursts. While the defence held up, the offence broke out, highlighted by a 11-goal run stretched late in the third quarter.
Edmonton lost six games this season while scoring less than 10 goals. They posted 11 in the first half alone on Saturday.
Two former Swarm standouts produced for the Rush. Ward scored four goals and three assists. Aaron Wilson added three goals and four assists. Shawn Williams added six points and Corey Small finished with five points to bolster the offence.
These two teams split their regular-season series 1-1 with two gruelling overtime battles, but Saturday's game couldn't have been any more lopsided.
"A couple months ago, everyone was dogging us and saying that we're terrible and everything else, and now we're in the championship game," Ward said. "It's all about peaking at the right time and playing together and believing, and we're doing that."