EDMONTON - For Ryan Ward, it was a chance at a do over.
Having had a down season by his standards in Minnesota, the forward found a new lease on the game this year with the Edmonton Rush.
Ward finished the season as the Rush’s leading scorer with 31 goals and 43 assists in 16 games.
“It was a shock in the summer to find out that I got traded,” Ward said.
“But I was at a point last year where I was just ready for a change.
“Fortunately Derek Keenan was the coach and I had heard good things about him and I was happy. It was change, some fresh scenery, something that I welcomed and have been able to get back to the form that I’m used to being at.”
Ward, 29, started his career with the Philadelphia Wings before moving on to the Minnesota Swarm after two seasons. He spent five years in Minnesota, posting an impressive 75 points in 2007 and following that up with a 69-point season.
Last year, however, Ward’s numbers tailed off and he was held to just 56 points.
“I think the difference has been a combination of things,” Ward said. “I owe a lot of credit to Derek and his philosophy and his approach. He’s very positive and believes in me as a player and every player that plays for him.
“He’s brought in a lot of character players. If you look from top to bottom, all the guys are not only talented, but are character guys. They’re mature, unselfish and all want to win.”
The Rush have the weekend off, but are playing close attention to the action across the rest of the league as the regular-season comes to a close.
The club can finish anywhere from first to third in the West Division, depending on the Calgary Roughnecks and Washington Stealth fare in the regular-season finales.
“I don’t think it matters who we play, but it would be nice to have a home playoff game, for the team, the franchise and the fans,” Ward said. “It’s always comfortable playing in front of your own fans. But as far as on the floor standpoint, we think we can beat anybody and we’ve proven that we can beat anybody. From that standpoint, we don’t really care.”