Stalwart on 'D'

DEREK VAN DIEST, EDMONTON SUN

, Last Updated: 12:36 PM ET

For the Edmonton Rush, it's been all about offence when it comes to off-season acquisitions.

Yesterday they addressed the other end of the floor by re-signing defenceman and team captain Andrew Turner.

"Andrew is our leader and was a huge part of our defence last year," said Rush head coach and general manager Paul Day. "We had a lot of 22- and 23-year-old guys, which would basically be like having 18 and 19-year-old defencemen in hockey.

HE WAS A TUTOR

"We had young guys that we put in positions where most of the time you don't want to put guys in those positions because they may fail or not be comfortable. Andrew was kind of our tutor back there."

Turner, 28, a native of Beamsville, Ont., is heading into his seventh National Lacrosse League season.

He was acquired prior to the start of last season in a trade with the Rochester Knighthawks. The Rush gave up their second overall pick to get Turner in a package deal which also included Cam Bergman and Buck Stobart.

"I had Andy in Rochester our last year there in '05," Day said. "He was the defenceman of the year in the league.

"I knew he was looking for a move from Rochester because he wanted to live in Western Canada. He was a guy that I knew as a leader and a young player that was really coming into his prime. He's the kind of guy that we were going to get and build our defence around."

With the Rush last season, Turner scored a goal and added five assists, while collecting 95 loose balls. He was the team's top defenceman and expected to re-sign with the club this year.

"I'm optimistic about the upcoming year and I know other people are too," Turner said. "One thing that we have to be careful of, however, is that we were optimistic with the young team we had last season too. I think we have to be careful - even though we've improved on paper, I don't think we can take anything for granted going into Year 2."

KEY SHAMROCK

This summer, Turner helped the Victoria Shamrocks of the Western Lacrosse Association to the Mann Cup final. Along the way he was named the league's defensive player of the year.

He was also a member of Canada's winning-squad at the World Field Lacrosse Championships. Canada beat a heavily favoured U.S. team in the final.

"Canada's been an underdog in that tournament every year it's been held," said Turner. "Going out and beating a team that hasn't been beat since 1978 was amazing.

"Everyone was so happy and happy for the guys that had been there several times in the past and couldn't win. We went in with kind of a team that was put together differently then the ones in the past and it seemed to work for us."

This weekend Turner and the rest of the squad will take part in their second weekend camp at the Servus Credit Union Place in St. Albert. The Rush will play their first exhibition game on Dec. 8 at Rexall Place against the Calgary Roughnecks. They'll open the regular season on Jan. 6th by playing host to the Philadelphia Wings.

SPECIAL-TEAMS FOCUS

"That first weekend was a lot of evaluation and we let go five or six young guys," said Day. "This weekend we're going to step it up intensity-wise. We're putting guys into roles where we'd like to see them if they're going to make the team. We'll do quite a bit of special teams as well and really start building around our game plan for January."


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