Mammoth move

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:38 AM ET

The Colorado Mammoth have moved on.

The defending National Lacrosse League champions picked up right where they left off last season despite losing two key forwards in Chris Gill and Dan Stroup.

Tomorrow the Mammoth will face the two veterans for the first time this season as they visit Rexall Place (7 p.m.) to take on the Edmonton Rush.

"I think it's going to be a lot of fun," said Mammoth head coach Gary Gait. "The guys that have stepped in their place are pretty excited to prove that they have filled those roles.

"They (Gill and Stroup) are great players and I think they've proved it by helping Edmonton get off to a pretty decent start."

Last season, Gill and Stroup were instrumental in leading the Mammoth to the league title.

Following the season, the two were made available for the league's expansion draft and were both taken by the Chicago Shamrox.

The Rush then promptly acquired the pair from the Shamrox in order to bolster their offence.

"It's tough to lose a couple of guys like that," Gait said. "But that's what's great about this league. With expansion you are going to lose somebody.

"Every team goes through that situation and it just happened to be two power-play guys for us. We're trying to figure it out and find guys to fill those places."

Currently, players such as Edmonton products Jamie Shewchuk and Jordan Cornfield are attempting to fill the void.

Shewchuk has a goal and four assists in two games with the Mammoth, while Cornfield has a goal and an assist in two games.

Conversely, Gill has five goals and seven assists and Stroup has five goals and five assists in their first two games with the Rush.

"They (Gill and Stroup) are great people off the floor. I've known them for about 15 years," said Rush head coach and general manager Paul Day. "Right from Day 1, they were great leaders off the floor and in the locker-room.

"Then come game time, they've improved our offence. They are offensively very creative, they see everybody else on the floor and they've really helped our young guys on the power play."

Gill had eight points in his first game with the Rush and was named the league's offensive player of the week.

Last week Stroup had three goals and two assists in a losing cause against the Calgary Roughnecks.

But their contribution is not limited to the score sheet.

Their presence on the floor has created openings for other players to contribute offensively and no one has taken more advantage of the situation than Jimmy Quinlan.

The Rush forward has eight goals in his first two games. Last year Quinlan scored 20 goals all season.

"Last year Jimmy, Kevin Howard and Jamey Bowen, the ball would be in their sticks most of the time and everybody knew it," Day said.

"In our last game, we had six players score.

"We had it spread out pretty well. And Jimmy is a player that is very, very creative around the net."

The Rush head into the contest with a 1-1 record having been on both ends of exciting one-goal games to start the season.

The Mammoth, meanwhile, have jumped out to 3-0 start with impressive wins over Rochester, Arizona and Buffalo.

"Obviously they're the team to beat and they're hot out of the gate, going 3-0 against three different teams," Day said.

"They have a number of very, very good players in their lineup and we can't just key on one guy. We'll have our hands full, but I think we're a little more prepared than we were last year as far as the lineup we can bring every night."


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