Merrill leads the charge

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:47 PM ET

The Edmonton Rush is a team in transition.

Looking to go from worst to first in the span of one season, a big part of the change has come from transition player Brodie Merrill.

The squad has already gone from a pretender to contender in the National Lacrosse League, turning around a four-year post-season drought with their first playoff berth in franchise history.

Were really confident where we are as a team, we seem to be coming together at the right time, said Merrill, whose addition this season has been no small part of the Rush's evolution as they head into this weekend tied for first place overall with the Washington Stealth at 9-4. Were in a good spot right now, we just want to close the season off well.

Its a long way from a 5-11 last-place finish in 2009.

I think its really a mentality that we approach the game with, said Merrill, a Rush assistant captain who was named the leagues Transition Player of the Week after a pair of games where he scored five goals and 10 points including the winner in a 13-12 overtime victory over the Minnesota Swarm. He also scooped up 31 loose balls to set a new franchise record at 161.

Current Rush defender Ian Hawksbee set the old record of 150 last season, while Merrill is on pace to break 200.

Coach (Derek) Keenan always stresses to be aggressive in transition and push the ball when we have the opportunities, Merrill said. We certainly want to be safe with that and be responsible in our own end first and foremost. Its really a team concept that we have and it really complements my game.

Whether its on offence, defence or in transition, Merrill said it feels like hes making a difference on his new team.

Its been a real easy team to come in and really become acclimated and get to know the other guys, he said. Everybodys been so welcoming and I really enjoy just hanging out with all the teammates off the floor as well. I think weve got good chemistry and guys are in it for all the right reasons. That usually equates to success.

Along with strong transition, of course.

Having a good transition game is vital and its been a big part of our success, said Rush captain Chris McElroy, who plays at the position. Brodies the best transition player in the league and arguably the most rounded lacrosse player in the game. You look at the things he brings to the lineup and that is a big reason for our success this year.

IN THE BANK ... For each ticket sold to Fridays game, one item will be donated to Edmontons Food Bank through the Realty Executives Edmonton Rushs food drive

HELLO ESKIMOS ... The Rush are hosting Green and Gold night by holding a meet and greet with Patrick Kabongo, Jason Goss, Mathieu Bertrand, Kyle Koch and Graeme Bell. The players will be guest coaches for the Edmonton Flag Football Association halftime show.

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca


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