Rush Round 2

DEREK VAN DIEST, EDMONTON SUN

, Last Updated: 8:28 AM ET

The wait is nearly over.

Tonight the Edmonton Rush begin their second National Lacrosse League season with a sense of optimism, plenty of excitement and a number of new faces.

"There is a lot of anticipation, especially with a lot of the trades we made in the summer," said Rush assistant captain Jamey Bowen.

"It's a new look Rush and we're much improved in every area."

The Rush play host to the Philadelphia Wings in tonight's season opener, a team that just missed the playoffs last season.

The Wings have not qualified for the postseason in the last four years, however, they have won more championships than any other NLL club.

They won their last title in 2001.

"They lost two close games to Toronto last year in overtime," said Rush head coach and general manager Paul Day.

"If they win those games, they actually finish first in the East. So they were a goal or two away from winning the East.

"They're a young team that's had great drafts in the last couple of years.

"They're a young team that likes to play a tough run-and-gun style of lacrosse and they have some American guys that can shoot the ball well."

MORE EXPERIENCE

Conversely, the Rush head into the season as a more experienced group.

Chris Gill, 34, Dan Stroup, 38, and Ryan O'Connor, 28, were acquired in a trade with the expansion Chicago Shamrox in the off-season.

Jason Wulder, 36, - although suspended for tonight's encounter - was another veteran brought in by the Rush to boost scoring. Last season the Rush were the lowest-scoring team in the league with 150 goals en route to a 1-15 record.

"I think the biggest things with the additions we made is that they're guys who down the stretch want the ball," said Rush forward Jimmy Quinlan. "I think last year we had some younger guys in new positions where they weren't necessarily comfortable at all times."

Gill, Stroup and O'Connor also bring a winning attitude to the club.

They have nine NLL championships between them.

Last year Gill and Stroup won the league title as members of the Colorado Mammoth.

"All it takes in this league is to go on a three or four game run, then you're in the playoffs and you become a contender," Gill said.

"Last year Colorado wasn't the favourite. I think we were ranked eighth going into the league and I think this year we're ranked ninth with the Rush.

"It's pretty much the same, the only difference is that Edmonton didn't win as many games as Colorado won the year before."

FIRST AT HOME

The Rush are still looking for their first home victory.

They came close in last year's season opener, falling in overtime to the San Jose Stealth.

This year they'll have three cracks at it before heading on the road.

"With three games at home right here off the bat, there is some pressure to get those wins early," Quinlan said.

"Ideally we'd like to be 3-0. Our fans were great last year, but you can only support a losing team for so long. It's definitely important for the team, team morale and the fans to get a win early."


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