Would-be streakers

JOHN SHORT -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:46 AM ET

The Edmonton Rush are looking for their first-ever National Lacrosse League winning streak.

"It would be great if we could make it two wins in a row," president Duane Vienneau said yesterday. The team was preparing for tonight's clash at Rexall Place against the San Jose Stealth.

"In the first place, it would give us a .500 record at the halfway mark of the season. It would also help us to keep building on our attendance base."

Vienneau remains convinced that average crowds of 10,000 to 11,000 for home games will soon be replaced by full houses. "When fans watch us a couple of times, they fall in love with the product," he said.

Left unspoken was the possibility that more fans will focus on the NLL if, as appears likely, the Oilers fail in their bid for a berth in the NHL playoffs.

"I can't ever wish anything bad for the Oilers," Vienneau said. "But Edmonton is a city that loves its sports winners, and I think we're headed in that direction."

The current record, three wins and four losses, is not impressive on the surface, but Vienneau is quick to point out that last year's team won only once all season. "Our fans entered the year knowing they had never seen us win at home, but now they have.

"They made it clear that they like what they see when we win. In here, we like the fact that this team (with 10 new faces from last year) feels it has a chance to win any game - every game - that we play.

"Last year, the coach (Paul Day) and our guys realized they had to turn in absolutely their best performance just to come close. The difference is fun for us."

Ryan O'Connor's overtime goal a week ago against the Portland Lumberjax left Edmonton fourth in the Western Division, one game behind the Calgary Roughnecks and 1 1/2 games behind the third-place Arizona Sting.

Day made it clear there is no reason to talk - yet, at least - about playoffs. "We want to keep our focus on one game at a time. (It's essential to) think about today, not tomorrow."

The Stealth record is a feeble two wins and five defeats, but coach Walt Christianson is not intimidated. "It was important for us to win on the road," he told a news conference. "Now, we have to keep doing it."

Like the Rush, San Jose missed the playoffs last season. One of the main factors in their building process is Kelly Sorenson, a high draft choice, whose contributions become more important during the next stretch of games. The Stealth play six of their next seven games against Western Division rivals, including a rematch with the Rush at home on April 7.

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WHO TO WATCH

RANDY DALY, RUSH

After being injured last season, he has rebounded with 19 assists and 52 recoveries.

COLIN DOYLE, STEALTH

Leads the team with 30 assists. His passes are key to the Stealth attack.

GAME NOTES

PK powers

Both teams are impressive while killing penalties. The Stealth lead the league with a 61.9% success ratio; the Rush are right behind at 61.7%.

Solidwor

Two solid goaltending performances since he came over in a trade has lifted Rush netminder Curtis Palidwor to seventh in the NLL with a goals-against average of 11.94.

All stars

Rush stalwarts Andrew Turner and Jimmy Quinlan will appear in the NLL all-star game next Saturday.

Welcome back

San Jose visited Rexall Place last Jan. 6 for Edmonton's first-ever NLL game. The Stealth's 10-9 victory was watched by 11,385 fans.


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