Rush not taking playoffs for granted

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:47 PM ET

EDMONTON - Corey Small knows there is a big opportunity in front of him.

What the top draft pick of the Edmonton Rush might not realize is that it’s not something that happens all the time.

In fact, when the team made the National Lacrosse League’s post-season with a 10-6 record this year, it was a franchise first — which doesn’t fly over the head of a returning veteran like it might a rookie.

“For the most part, a lot of these guys have been around and haven’t had a lot of winning seasons, so for them it was huge and you can kind of feel the buzz in the locker-room and throughout those guys,” said Small, who was taken ninth overall and finished fourth in scoring among rookies with 17 goals and 39 points. “It’s definitely something special for the team.”

Second-year Rush forward Andy Secore found himself in a similar situation five seasons ago when he first came to the NLL.

“I’ve been to the Champion’s Cup actually, in my rookie year in Arizona,” said Secore, now 26. “I didn’t really get it then, I’ll admit that. I came in off junior ball and didn’t realize how tough it is to win in this league.

“I took it for granted. It’s going to be a different story this time.”

Secore spent the following season in Arizona before the team folded and the dispersal draft sent him to the Minnesota Swarm. He reunited with his former Arizona coach Bob Hamley in Edmonton last season.

But Secore hasn’t been back to the Champion’s Cup final since.

“You don’t really realize. You step into this league and guys have been in this league who have yet to make the playoffs,” Secore said. “Your first year on the team and you’re looking at the finals or you’re looking at your first playoff game on the way to the finals, things sort of slide over your head at a young age.”

Not anymore.

“Definitely not. The career’s almost at an end, I would say, now,” said Secore, who fully appreciates just how big a win over the Calgary Roughnecks would be in Saturday’s opening playoff round. “It’s huge. I think it’s big for our organization and our team. Some guys have been here for five years now.

“We’ve got a winning team in that room. (Head coach Derek) Keenan has done a great job with the personnel he’s brought in and I think he’s done a great job as well.”

The Rush have taken the initial steps toward starting a new tradition in Edmonton — one that Small and his fellow rookies will become an even bigger part of in the future.

“It’s pretty much a whole new team from last year,” Small said. “Coach Keenan brought in a good group of guys, a lot of guys with winning traditions in their background. I’m sure all those guys are ready to go, this won’t be anything new for them — maybe just a few of us younger guys and a few of the guys who have been with the Rush for a few years.”

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca


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