New city, new team, same-ol’ playoff scenario for Gavin Prout.
No player on the Edmonton Rush has as many post-season tilts against the Roughnecks under his belt as Prout, who will be facing the Riggers in the playoffs Saturday for the fifth time in his career.
The first four came as a member of the Colorado Mammoth, which waged some epic playoff battles against the Roughnecks over the years.
Calgary upended the Mammoth in 2004 and again last season en route to their Champion’s Cup titles, while Colorado beat Calgary in 2006 before going on to claim the team’s only Cup.
In Colorado, Prout was part of one of the most dynamic duos in league history, partnering with NLL legend Gary Gait to make the Mammoth one of the premier franchises in the league, both on and off the floor. He was traded to Rochester in the off-season, which later dealt him to the Rush prior to the start of the season.
In Edmonton, Prout joined a new cast of stars — including Ryan Ward and Brodie Merrill — that helped turn a 6-10 Rush squad into one that went 10-6 this year and made the post-season for the first time in franchise history.
A lot has changed for Prout over the last year, but he still finds himself getting ready to suit up in a
do-or-die, one-game elimination tilt at the Saddledome.
“It seems that every single year
I run into Calgary,” said the soft-spoken Prout. “I think the last three years we had them in the first round of the playoffs in Colorado. I’m no stranger to this, but at the same time, I’d like to turn the page and beat them again for the first time in a long time.”
Prout led all Rush players with six goals in the three-game season series between the two clubs, and was second in points with 12, one behind Ryan Ward.
In Denver, Prout quarterbacked the offence and set things up from the top. In Edmonton, his role changed a bit with the Rush employing more ball movement. Still, he ended up with 27 goals and 67 points this season, again second only to Ward
(31g, 32a, 74 pt.).
“He played a different role this year,” said Roughnecks veteran Kaleb Toth. “In Colorado, he was always the go-to guy. The offence ran through him. His role diminished a bit, but he still takes full advantage of the opportunities he gets. Hopefully, he doesn’t get too many to take advantage of this weekend against us.”
Prout is welcoming the new dynamic.
“It’s a little bit different than in Colorado,” agreed Prout.
“This ball moves quicker, so you’re not necessarily having the ball in your stick a lot, but you’re still moving to get open and get your teammates open. You’re always moving your feet. It’s tiring, but rewarding.”
Calgary plays a pressure defence which can put opposing forwards on their heels. Prout feels the Rush’s approach counteracts that well.
“With that defence, they play very well as a unit,” said Prout.
“They all know exactly what their roles are and do it to a T. As an offence, we’ve had a bit of success when we get that ball moving and we have to do that, get everyone involved, get some cutters through the middle, things like that that can get them out of their rhythm. It’s tough to pressure when you get the ball moving quickly. It moves much quicker than any player can.”