Friday, January 20, 2012

GDB 1: The Opener


By Josh Bourhis

The Edmonton Rush are looking to start the season with a bang against the Colorado Mammoth at home tonight. They have to; Losing this year isn't an option. After making the playoffs only once in their first six seasons, the demand for success is getting high in Edmonton, especially from the fans. This leads us into the preview for Tonight's game.

The Colorado Mammoth, (1-0) after a high scoring affair last week against the Swarm look to spoil the excitement for the new look Rush and their fans.

The Rush, finishing last in the West (5-11) last year, made a big splash this offseason, by replacing players like Brodie Merrill, Andy Secore, Matt Disher, Scott Stewart, and Bill Greer, with new players like Goalie Aaron Bold, Forwards Shawn Williams and Aaron Wilson, Defensemen Kyle Rubisch, Chris Corbeil, and Ryan Dilks. Keep an eye out for these players to make big plays tonight.

The big topic is Aaron Bold (pictured below), who will be the number one goaltender going into the season. Playing only 30 minutes last year for the Rochester Knighthawks, he is looking to finally make the jump to being a starter.


On Colorado's side, John Grant Jr. made a big impact last weekend, notching 4 goals and 11 points against the Swarm. Chris Levis made 47 saves, and the powerplay really clicked for Colorado last week going 4 for 6 for 66%.


Players To Watch:

Mammoth:

John Grant Jr.-Forward
Gavin Prout-Forward
Sean Pollock-Forward
Chris Levis-Goalie

Rush:

Aaron Bold-Goalie
Corey Small-Forward
Jimmy Quinlan-New Captain
Kyle Rubisch-Defense


Keys for tonight's game:

Rush:

Capitalizing on Loose Balls: The Swarm picked up 96 loose balls to Colorado's 67 last week, yet the score was 20-14 in favour of the Mammoth. The Rush need to get the ball, Transition fast, and get scoring chances.
Sticks on Sticks: The Mammoth have a good Offense, with John Grant Jr. Gavin Prout, and Sean Pollock. The Rush defenders need to make sure that their sticks are always up and must prevent shots from getting on goal.
Goaltending: It's another year with a new Rush goalie. Bold needs to make key stops and not let in 20. He needs to get the crowd behind him early and he will gain confidence.

Colorado:

Test Aaron Bold Early: Okay, complete opposite of the Rush's key to victory, Don't let him get comfortable or let the crowd get behind him.
Faceoffs: Colorado was 26% on faceoffs last game. This needs to improve as getting possession after a goal is key to keep momentum, or if it was a goal against, cut off the other teams momentum. Controlling the ball, slowing the play down, and setting up plays will be a major factor.
Special Teams: Colorado had a good powerplay last week. They need to keep making the most of the man advantage situations.

Last Minute of Play:
Athan Ianucci, who was aquired in the Brodie Merrill trade, has yet to sign with the Rush. This is a big loss for the offense, but I feel the Rush will still be able to get it done. Corey Small and Shawn Williams will be the anchors on the Offense, with support from Ryan Ward and newly acquired Aaron Wilson.

Odds and Ends:
The Rush Debut their new Home Jerseys for the season. Let's hope they aren't going to be the 'Edmonton Edmonton Rush" in front of their own fans because I'm pretty sure the fans know what city their team plays in.

Prediction: I think the final score will be 14-12 in favour of the Rush. Having a good home record will be key for the Rush this year.

Follow me @Boursey on Twitter.

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