Just a couple of keys

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:36 AM ET

Bob Hamley will be keeping a close eye on the National Lacrosse League division finals tonight.

It's a game the Edmonton Rush head coach and general manager hopes to be part of in the near future.

And despite the fact his team has never been able to qualify for the playoffs, Hamley believes that with a couple of key additions, he has the player personnel to get there.

"I really believe, offensively, we are just a couple of players away," Hamley said.

"We need that one guy that can take the team on his shoulders and win that fourth quarter. When you look at our fourth quarters, we didn't finish when we had the opportunities.

"I'm sure everybody says that going into the off-season when you don't win a championship, but we made so many changes during the off-season last year. I really like the core of our group. We seemed to gel and settle down towards the end of the year.

"We're not going to make a whole bunch of changes this off-season and just try and find those couple of offensive guys that can help put us over the top."

This season the Rush finished with a 5-11 record, two wins shy of the fourth and final playoff spot in the NLL West. They also lost four one-goal games.

"We have three of the top 14 picks in the draft this year," Hamley said. "And although, they are a little later in the draft, it's still a very good, deep draft and hopefully we can sneak out a guy that can help us next year."

The Rush got strong offensive performances from Dan Teat and Andy Secore. Callum Crawford also had a breakthrough season.

Teat, 37, led the team in scoring with 69 points. He joined the Rush at the midway point of the 2008 campaign from the Buffalo Bandits.

The Rush hope to have him back in the fray next year.

"He'll be under contract.We'll probably franchise him," Hamley said.

"He's an Eastern guy and that's always a concern for the older guys as we go through the off-season.

"I wouldn't be too surprised to get a call from him saying that he'd like to play in the East, but realistically we have to do what's best for the organization and if it means Dan Teat being part of that, then hopefully that happens."

On the back end, the Rush got better defensively as they year went along.

They team hit rock bottom when blown out 22-10 by the Roughnecks at home at the midway point. But they rebounded.

"(The defence) really did a good job for us," Hamley said.

"Chris Levis gave us some really good goaltending down the stretch and gave our defence some good confidence that maybe we were lacking through the middle of the schedule.

"Scott Self had a great year. He was maybe a little under-rated. Chris McKay had an unbelievable season as well as (Ian) Hawksbee.

"And, if you look at the rest of the guys, we have a good group back there."

Levis took over the goaltending duties after Steve Dietrich was traded following the Calgary debacle. Despite struggling in that game as well, Levis went on to elevate his play.

"Someone mentioned that we should look at getting a goaltending coach.

"But, for me, perhaps a psychologist would be more appropriate," Hamley said.

"I think it's more mental with goaltenders. He settled into the role and took it upon himself to try and get us into the playoffs and he almost did.

"He was great for us.

"We also got a young guy in Brandon Atherton, who'll get a lot of experience playing in his summer league.

"He'll be playing again men and we're excited about that."

DEREK.VANDIEST@SUNMEDIA.CA


Videos

Photos