Scoring woes still plague Rush

TY PILSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:56 AM ET

New jerseys, a new direction and plenty of new faces.

But while this season's edition of the Rush appears much different than last year's, it still suffers from the same ailment that's plagued the franchise since its first season: Lack of scoring punch.

While professional lacrosse is often a high-scoring affair, don't be fooled: The hardest thing to do in the game is to put the ball in the net.

Coach/GM Bob Hamley attemped to address that concern in the off-season when he tried to swing a deal with the expansion Boston Blazers to get their pick in the Arizona Sting dispersal draft and grab star forward Dan Dawson.

Blazers GM Tom Ryan, however, kept the pick and opted to take Dawson himself. Landing Dawson was a long shot and Hamley didn't sit on his hands. He tried to beef up the Edmonton attack during and after the pursuit of Dawson.

Hamley picked up promising youngster Andy Secore in the Sting dispersal draft, a player some consider has star potential. Secore missed two games last season, but still scored 28 goals and finished with 76 points, good for 13th in league scoring.

Hamley also added another pair of young forwards in Callum Crawford and first-round pick Jamie Floris, and signed veteran Jason Wulder for his second tour of duty in Edmonton.

Easily one of the most under-rated offensive threats in league history, Wulder brings a slick stick, leadership and will likely quarterback the team's powerplay.

Those new players joined holdovers Mike Hominuck, Jimmy Quinlan and Dan Teat on the Rush's offence.

While a skilled group, they still represent - on paper - the weakest offence in the league, save the expansion Blazers.

That was evident in the season-opener against the Calgary Roughnecks last Saturday in Cowtown. While the final result - a 10-9 overtime loss - could have gone the other way, it was a troubling outing for the Rush attack.

The Riggers played to a hard-fought 12-10 win over the division powerhouse Stealth the night before in San Jose and had to travel back (out of bed and to the airport at 4:30 a.m.) to play the well-rested Rush. Without the benefit of charters, travel in the NLL is arduous. Toss in the fact a handful of players reportedly got food poisoning after the game, and Calgary was not in peak condition.

To sweeten the pot, starting goalie and former Rush 'tender Pat Campbell was one of those who fell ill, leading backup Matt King to start.

Despite all that, the Rush managed only 38 shots, while Calgary peppered Steve Dietrich with 58 shots.

That's where the good news starts. After struggling last season with Calgary and missing time due to the effects of a concussion, Dietrich - the only goalie in league history to be named MVP - displayed his old form Saturday following an off-season trade that sent him up the QEII. He stopped a half-dozen breakaways in the fourth quarter to keep the Rush in it.

Hamley also signed free-agent Chris Levis to back up Dietrich, giving the club a veteran tandem in net.

The club also added some speed and skill on transition, picking up Chris Seller and Andrew Biers, and strengthened its back end, acquiring Scott Self, one of the top defenders in the league, along with Ryan McNish.

In short, the Rush have a strong, mobile defence/transition game (a must in today's NLL) and good goaltending.

Can they score enough, though?


Videos

Photos