Rush open camp

GERRY MODDEJONGE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:54 AM ET

Preseason is underway for the Edmonton Rush, who are holding a pair of training camp sessions this weekend and next at the Leduc Recreation Centre.

With a new head coach and a handful of acquired players on the roster, there is no time for formalities.

Of the 36 players currently signed by the Rush, 34 are in attendance at this weekend's camp. It's a number Derek Keenan will whittle down to around 28 by the end of tomorrow's session.

"We will cut down after this weekend," said the former Portland Lumberjax head coach and general manager, who is entering his first season at the Rush's helm. "Because of the limited time, we'll actually want to start working on systems next week."

There are 23 roster spots available to each team in the NLL.

"The message is very clear to our players: they have to come to camp in game shape," Keenan said yesterday in a phone interview from his home in Toronto. "It's not a situation where we are coming to camp to work the kinks out and get into shape."

The Rush already held physical fitness tests for players in B.C., Alberta and Ontario over the off-season.

"The results were very positive," Keenan said. "In fact, I've never seen a group since I've been involved in this league, which has been a long time, with results this strong. So the guys took the message seriously and we'll be ready physically for sure."

Leduc will be the official practice facility for the team throughout the season.

The Rush will see their first action in an exhibition against the Calgary Roughnecks in Lethbridge on Dec. 19.

The regular-season schedule gets underway on Jan. 15 on the road against the Washington Stealth.

"We're going to get together for three full days (on Jan.) 8, 9 and 10 and that's when we'll go through all our systems and we'll do some team building and some performance goals," Keenan said. "We'll get everything all ready then."

PLANE PAIN: Keenan was concerned about yesterday's snowstorm affecting his flight from Toronto.

"That's the concern with our league being in the winter," he said prior to his departure.

Of course, a bit of snow is nothing new for the grounds crew at the Edmonton International Airport.

"That's the advantage of being in a Canadian northern city is at least they're accustomed to it," Keenan said.

GERRY.MODDEJONGE@SUNMEDIA.CA


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