Friday, January 4, 2013

9 Teams In 9 Days: Edmonton Rush

Pictured: The Middle Of Nowhere
It's not often that a team that makes it to the Champions Cup final and has the first overall pick in their repertoire, but that was the case with the Edmonton Rush last season. After losing to the Knighthawks in the final, the Rush were able to pick Mark Matthews first overall in the October draft.

Matthews comes with the hype of being the best lacrosse player to be drafted since John Grant Jr. His resume includes two Minto Cups, and the title of All-Time leading scorer at Denver University. He's also not a stranger to pro lacrosse as he played this Summer with the MLL's Denver Outlaws.

Matthews will become the first player the Rush have been able to market to the fan,s as in past years, the team had a lack of star-power and with it a lack of success. At this point in the city, it's home playoff date or bust, but in the competitive West division, making the playoff will take all they have.

Matthews will be the franchise's first legitimate offensive quarterback and will be heavily relied upon in his rookie season. The Rush turned on the jets in the playoffs last year, but in the regular season they finished last in the league in goals for, only scoring 167 times.

They lose their leading scorer from last season in Shawn Williams, as well as Scott Evans and Aaron Wilson. Williams and Wilson were both part of trades, while Evans was released after Head Coach Derek Keenan thought he was not in the right shape or state of mind to stay with the team. Evans was missed 4 games in the regular season and finished the year benched during the playoffs.

Sticking around is Zack Greer, who had a breakout season leading the team with 31 goals, Corey Small, who lead the team in scoring in 2011, and Ryan Ward who had a less than stellar regular season but turned up production to average 7.5 points per game in the playoffs.

As well as Mark Matthews, rookies Curtis Knight and Mike Burke made the team on offense while Mitch Bannister will play transition.

Last season playing transition by committee didn't really work out, so Jarrett Davis and Jeremy Thompson have been brought in to help.

The Rush have one of the top defenses in the league, last year putting them second in goals against. Their back end features Kyle Rubisch, Chris Corbeil, and Brett Mydske, all three of which have been NLL All-Stars in the last couple years. Rubisch is also the leagues reigning Defender Of The Year.

Finally, in goal is Aaron Bold who was given his first starting job last year and took it by the horns. Bold finished third in Save% for starting goaltenders stopping 77.5% of the shots he faced. He was a big part in the Rush making the playoffs and should be up for another great season.

Will the Rush be able to score enough goals? That seems to be the big question. As mentioned above, Matthews will be leaned upon to lead this offense in just his first season. He has the skills and surrounding pieces, and use of available talent should get them into the playoffs.

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