Over the last two years, Edmonton Rush general manager and head coach Derek Keenan has made a point to make his team younger and more athletic.
Since the beginning of last season, Keenan has either cut or traded NLL veterans like Shawn Williams, Scott Evans and Aaron Wilson, as well as holdouts Paul Rabil and Athan Iannucci, while stockpiling draft picks and young prospect
Early results show the plan has worked out so far, with a pick from the Washington Stealth turning into the number one selection last year Mark Matthews.
Other young players have been Curtis Knight, Jeremy Thompson, Jeff Cornwall, Jarrett Davis, Corey Small and Kyle Rubisch, who have all been brought in over the last few seasons and are 25 or younger.
With any new team featuring a bunch of new faces, the chemistry hasn’t been perfect so far. Through three games, they are 1-2, but are one of three teams in the NLL with a positive goal differential.
Three Players To Watch:
Mark Matthews: From the moment Washington ended up at the bottom of the league, the Mark Matthew hype machine has been on overdrive in Edmonton. Matthews, who just turned 23, hasn’t disappointed, with 19 points in four games, including a nine-point outburst in only his second career game against the Stealth. He was recently named the Rookie of the Month in the NLL.
Kyle Rubisch: To gather up his recent accomplishments simply, Rubisch is the defending NLL Defensive Player of the Year. In his first year wearing the Rush jersey after coming over in the Boston Blazers dispersal draft, Rubisch led the league with 43 turnovers and is constantly the best defender on the floor.
Ryan Ward: The elder statesman on the Rush roster at 34-years-old, he’s been a pain the neck for the Roughnecks since joining the team in 2010. Last season, it seemed Calgary finally got a handle on the righty, allowing only nine points during the four regular season games. But in the playoffs, he showed not to write him off just yet, when he scored 11 points during the Rush’s 19-11 win at the Scotiabank Saddledome.