The countdown Rush begins

SCOTT ZERR -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 10:49 AM ET

After nearly three months of tryouts, training camps, drills and scrimmages, the Edmonton Rush players are getting antsy.

With less than a week to go before the inaugural National Lacrosse League game in the city, the Rush can sense that they're ready to get down to business.

"This week is just gearing up and getting excited," said Rush forward Jimmy Quinlan, whose team launches their first NLL season on Friday at Rexall Place against the San Jose Stealth.

Yesterday at Millennium Place in Sherwood Park, the Rush began their final weekend series of pre-season practices. And not a moment too soon.

"We had a week off for Christmas and away from the boys but everyone's coming in now and I really felt it today. I'm getting really excited," said forward Kevin Howard.

"It's been a long time coming.

"Being born and raised here, playing for Edmonton has always been something I wanted to do."

Paul Day, the Rush's coach and GM, is calm, cool and collected about the upcoming big event - at least for now.

"This weekend we've got so much preparation and little things to take care of but I'll be antsy on Monday," said Day, who doesn't expect his team to be the typical lovable loser expansion entry.

"We brought guys in from teams who, when they're sitting in the dressing room before the game, expect to win. That's the mentality we want.

"A lot of (NLL) expansion teams go out and get the 30-year-olds who were at the end of their careers and barely hanging on. We went with the young approach. It'll be tough because of the lack of experience but it'll be a bonus because they'll be trying to prove themselves every night."

The Rush did well to sign Day, who stands second in NLL history for victories by a coach, and then trade for Andrew Turner, the league's defensive player of the year in 2005. But Quinlan figures there's one other key component.

"The biggest thing was getting a group of unselfish players - guys who are willing to be put in any role are a huge asset to us," said Quinlan.

"We've got a good chemistry here. A lot of teams that have success have the majority of players living in the city and we have that with 19 guys living here. That's a huge plus."

Howard, who previously had NLL stints in Ottawa and Calgary, believes that camaraderie will pay dividends in the standings.

"It's pretty rare to find that and in this league, that goes a long way," said Howard.

"The coaches did a really good job of building around the concept. They didn't want any jerks on the team - any guys who were going to be cancers."


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