Merrill happy to be here

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 4:01 AM ET

It took the folding of the Portland LumberJax franchise to make it happen, but fate maybe played just as big a role in bringing Brodie Merrill to the Edmonton Rush.

Merrill was chosen first overall in the National Lacrosse League dispersal draft after the LumberJax were dissolved in the off-season.

"A while back, it was close that I was going to end up in Edmonton when I was first drafted in the league. Playing in Portland, the two franchises grew together," said Merrill.

"This is a market that is really hungry to start winning, and if we can start stringing together some wins I think it's just going to snowball and perpetuate and get pretty big."

Merrill was one of a handful of LumberJax players, not to mention head coach and genral manager Derek Keenan, to join the Rush after watching their former team drop out of the league.

"It was tough," Merrill said. "You kind of understand it, especially with the economic climate in the U.S. And there was definitely a year of two of uncertainty there.

"It's unfortunate. We had a great group of people there and the players were really treated well, so we're going to miss that Portland family.

"That being said, I think we're all pretty excited to be in Edmonton."

In a way, it's almost like coming back home for Merrill.

Born in Montreal, he grew up north of Toronto in Orangeville, Ont.

"It's kind of funny," he said looking down at his No. 8 Rush jersey.

"I'm back in my hometown colours. It feels pretty familiar. It's nice to be back in the black and silver."

And to be back in Canada.

"Especially in a city like Edmonton, which is a great sports town and it's got a rich tradition of success, obviously, in hockey," Merrill said.

"You can really feel that culture within the city.

"Especially having some local guys on the team, predominantly a Canadian team -- I think Ryan Powell might be the only American we have here -- it feels like it's our game and we want to continue to spread it across the country.

"It's still kind of a niche sport."

Merrill's not the only one who's glad he's playing for the Rush.

Former teammate Gavin Prout, who is also in his first season with Edmonton, is at the top of that list.

"I've played with Brodie for a couple years in different situations ... in the field lacrosse game specifically," said Prout.

"We've played on and off in all-star games. Brodie's a winner.

"He's pretty much won at every level that he's played in and it seems that every time we come together -- in Baltimore, Toronto and Rochester -- we've won championships.

"Hopefully, we can remain successful together and bring a championship to Edmonton."

GERRY.MODDEJONGE@SUNMEDIA.CA


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