Benesch solid in debut

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:10 AM ET

Two years ago, Ryan Benesch was the best rookie in the National Lacrosse League.

Yet, for whatever reason, he couldn't even get in to the lineup for the Toronto Rock in their first two games of this season.

So the Edmonton Rush went out and acquired him.

"I really couldn't tell you what happened there," Benesch said.

"It was like two bulls butting heads. We didn't see eye-to-eye on a few things.

BREAKING POINT

"You can only take so much as a player and then you get your breaking point. From there, the only thing you can really do is ask to go somewhere else."

Benesch was granted his wish earlier this week and was dealt to the Rush along with defenceman Derek Suddons for a first-round draft pick in this year's NLL Entry Draft.

Last night he made his debut with the Rush, contributing two goals and an assist in an 11-10 win over the Portland LumberJax.

"He's a very skilled offensive player and has a very high lacrosse I.Q. He has very good knowledge of the game, and is able to see things on the floor that other people aren't able to see," said Rush head coach and general manager Bob Hamley.

"He's a very good lacrosse player and when he became available it was a situation where you couldn't turn that deal down."

Benesch, 24, scored 33 goals and added 25 assists for 58 points with the Rock in 2007. For his efforts, he was named the NLL Rookie of the Year.

Last season he was nearly as productive, with 19 goals and 31 assists for 50 points.

"There was a little added pressure after that first year," Benesch said.

"But it's a team game, one person is not going to win you a game.

STRUGGLED

"When the team struggles, everybody struggles and our team struggled last year. My points dropped off last year, but what can you do? You just have to try to fight through it and keep playing."

The Rock finished with a disappointing 7-9 record last season and missed the playoffs.

They're off to a 1-1 start this season and deemed Benesch expendable.

"It kind of figured something was going on when I sat the first two games of the season," Benesch said.

"But I'm actually really glad to be here. I'm really looking at starting fresh and getting new beginning."

Benesch should add another dimension to a Rush offence, which lacks a big-name goal scorer.

The team is expected to score by committee this season.

"We want him to add to our offence and our powerplay," Hamley said.

"He's a very skilled guy and he's going to make us better. That's where the fault lies was with our offence. We know we need to get better there and we think he can make us better."

Hamley had inquired about trading for Benesch during the off-season.

"We asked about him in the summer, even though we knew there was little chance of him moving and at the time there wasn't," Hamley said.

"But we kept making the calls and sure enough, eventually it worked out and we had a first-round pick that we could eventually give up.

"It worked out well for us."


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