Hill breaks out in Calgary

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:20 AM ET

Dean Hill gets that it's a team game.

And while it may not have been easy, the Edmonton Rush forward bit his lip and took a seat when required at times this season, knowing an opportunity would come around again.

It did last weekend in the Rush's first ever playoff game, and Hill responded by scoring three goals in a victory over the Calgary Roughnecks.

"When I wasn't in the lineup, I just tried to stay positive about it and just wait for my turn again," Hill said. "It's hard sometimes, I guess, because you want to be out there with the guys, playing. But you have to suck it up a bit. If the team is winning, that's what it's all about, so why change something if you're winning?"

Hill, 25, has been platooning with Dane Stevens up front for the Rush this season. Hill got the call last weekend and scored three of the biggest goals of his career, helping the Rush advance to this Saturday's National Lacrosse League semifinal in Seattle against the Washington Stealth (8:30 p.m., TEAM 1260, nll.com).

"He seems to be scoring pretty regularly when he's in the lineup," said Rush head coach and GM Derek Keenan. "We kind of went back and forth with he and Dane Stevens during the latter half of the season. But we went with Dean against Calgary because he has a bit more experience than Dane and that decision really paid off.

"He's got great hands and when he gets opportunities in scoring positions, he's going to score a lot of goals."

The three goals against Calgary marked the fifth time this season Hill has scored a hat trick. He also chipped in with an assist, giving him four points on the night.

"I was getting some good looks," Hill said. "They were finding me, I was getting open and I was able to put it in the net. I had played against Calgary's goalie for a long time, so I kind of knew his tendencies and things like that. I just had a good game I guess."

A five-year NLL veteran, Hill started his career with the Minnesota Swarm.

The Toronto native spent parts of four seasons with the Swarm before being traded to the Rochester Knighthawks last season.

Prior to this year, Hill was acquired from Rochester, along with forward Gavin Prout for a first-round and a conditional second-round pick in next year's NLL draft.

"In Minnesota I was playing every game, and then I was traded to Rochester where I got kind of caught up in a numbers game," Hill said. "They have a lot of good offensive guys. It was a little bit tough and I'm kind of glad I didn't go back this year. I'm happy to be in Edmonton."

In 11 regular-season games with the Rush, Hill scored 18 goals and added 11 assists.

"I thought this year was a decent year for me," Hill said. "I know last year was a rough year, I was getting bounced around everywhere. I was a little surprised I got traded here to Edmonton at the beginning of the year from Rochester.

"But Derek Keenan gave me a good opportunity here, and when I wasn't in the lineup, he let me know exactly why, so I knew what was going on. Dane Stevens played well when I wasn't in the lineup and when he wasn't in, I played well. We have a little bond there on the offensive end with everybody."

Due to his performance against Calgary, odds are good Hill will be back in the lineup against the Stealth. In the team's last meeting of the regular season, Hill scored three goals.

"They're a strong team, their offence is real powerful and they have one of the best special teams in the league. We have our work cut out for us," he said. "We just have to do what we did last week. They're going to score some goals, we just have to stay positive with it."


Videos

Photos