Rush's Quinlan a team player

CON GRIWKOWSKY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:45 PM ET

Over the years, Jimmy Quinlan has earned a reputation as one of the offensive leaders for the Edmonton Rush.

He’s still the team’s all-time leading scorer with 178 points and has missed only one game in team history.

This season Quinlan was asked to take on a more challenging role as one of the team’s transitions players.

In addition to a lot more responsibility in the defensive zone, Rush transition players Brodie Merrill and Scott Stewart act kind of like quarterbacks who set up plays in the offensive zone.

By all accounts, since he was asked to take on the role early in the season, Quinlan has responded well. He’s now got 11 games under his belt in the position and has started to feel more comfortable.

“At first, it was a new role,” said Quinlan. “The more games I’ve played, the less nervous I’ve felt.”

This is a big weekend for the team, who have another chance to clinch a home playoff date as they host the Calgary Roughnecks Friday night, then travel to Everett Saturday to take on the Washington Stealth.

“It would have been nice to do it last weekend,” said Quinlan. “Against Colorado, we may have been a little overexuberant. For us to be successful this weekend, we have to shape up, take care of the little things and pay attention to detail.”

The Rush are coming off a 14-11 loss to Colorado, while Calgary managed a 12-11 win against the Mammoth.

To be sure, the Rush are in somewhat unfamiliar territory. It’s the first time in their history they’ve nailed down a playoff spot.

“I’m sure it’ll be a great game,” Rush GM-coach Derek Keenan said during the weekly NLL coaches’ conference call Wednesday. “For us, it would be great to earn a home playoff game but we don’t need our guys to feel the weight of the world is on their shoulders.”

Quinlan put it a different way. It’s about managing expectations after reaching the primary goal Keenan set out for the squad in training camp.

“At the beginning of the year, our goal was to make the playoffs,” said Quinlan. “Once we did that, it seems we might have got ahead of ourselves.

“We wanted to get first in the conference, first in the west and then a home playoff game. I figure the side issues got the best of us.”

One guy Quinlan and the rest of the Rush defenders will have to watch out for is Josh Sanderson, who has scored a league-leading 91 goals for the Roughnecks.

“We need a solid effort,” said Quinlan.

con.griwkowsky@sunmedia.ca


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