Pressure cooker

DEREK VAN DIEST, EDMONTON SUN

, Last Updated: 9:03 AM ET

There's something to be said when a lacrosse team goes 1-15 in their inaugural season and their goaltender is named the MVP.

Despite adding more scoring punch to their lineup, the Edmonton Rush will need Pat Campbell to have another strong campaign this season.

Perhaps even stronger than last year.

"To be perfectly honest, I feel a bit more pressure this year," said Campbell.

"I feel a little bit more nervous going into this season because with having better players, we're going to win more games, but now you are more accountable."

Last night Campbell was strong in net for the Rush as they fell 13-10 to the Calgary Roughnecks in their final pre-season tune-up in Lethbridge.

The Rush were outshot 50-32 in the contest.

"Pat was outstanding," said Rush head coach and GM Paul Day. "He made some really good saves for us. Goaltending and good defence kept us in the game in the first quarter. Then we just ran out of gas in the second half."

The teams were tied 6-6 at halftime, then the Roughnecks pulled away in the second half.

"Our power-play was very good and we did well on the penalty kill," said Day. "We just have to be a little better five-on-five. But I like what I saw and we'll be ready to go next week."

EXPANSION DRAFT

Campbell, 29, was the Rush's fourth pick in the 2005 NLL expansion draft, taken from the Rochester Knighthawks.

The native of Niagara Falls, Ont., is entering his ninth NLL season, which began in Toronto before moving on to Colorado, Columbus and then Rochester. Last season he posted 12.89 goals against average with a .750 save percentage in 14 games for the Rush.

"Last year the expectations were quite low and you could get away with having a bad game here or there and it wasn't quite as noticed," Campbell said. "But now with the team that we have, a bad game for any spoke in the wheel is going to result in a loss.

"If I'm able to stay true to how my game could be, then obviously we have a great chance to win games."

In the Rush's only win last season, Campbell stopped 54 shots in a 12-11 win over the Roughnecks.

It proved to be Campbell's best performance of the season, with the Rush giving up more shots in that contest - 65 - then they did in any other game during the season.

In total, Campbell had four games last year where he was forced to make over 40 saves. Two of them were one-goal losses.

"We talked about how we need him to be consistent this year," said Day.

"We don't need him to be great every night because our defence is a year older and our offence is that much better. Consistency is going to be the key for him this year."

Campbell got off to a rough start this year, giving up four goals on the first six shots in the Rush's first exhibition game of the season. However, with his performance last night, the club is confident in their goaltender heading into their regular-season opener next Saturday against the Philadelphia Wings at Rexall Place.

GOOD PRACTICE

"That's one thing about having exhibition games - especially for goaltenders more than anyone else - it gives them a chance to shake off some of the rust," Day said.

"They see thousands of shots in practice, but it's a different type of focus in a game. Since that weekend, he's had two or three very good weekends."


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