Corbeil back in a Rush

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:56 AM ET

EDMONTON - No one can blame Chris Corbeil for coming into the 2012 NLL season feeling more than a little invincible.

After all, the Edmonton Rush defender was fresh off a Mann Cup championship in the summer and was a key part of a championship-calibre University of Western Ontario hockey squad that was taking a run at a CIS banner.

"I was on a little winning streak," the 23-year-old dual athlete said over the phone from London, Ont., where he is completing a business degree from UWO and has wrapped up four seasons of Mustangs hockey -- the past three of which were also split playing professional lacrosse. "I was like, 'You know what? This is destiny here, I'm bound to win. Nothing can stop me.'

"And then, a rude awakening."

Corbeil broke his foot against the rival Calgary Roughnecks just five weeks into his new stint with the Rush.

"Three weekends ago, we lost in the national championship game to McGill in overtime," Corbeil said. "I was lucky enough to play in that one because I hurt my foot and missed a chunk of the season with Edmonton this year.

"But I managed to come back and play in the national championship, which is good because it was my senior year and my last chance to play hockey. That was an exciting way to finish off my hockey career, that's for sure."

But the injury that sidelined him for six weeks kept him from participating in the 2012 NLL all-star game, which would have marked his triumphant return to the First Niagra Center in Buffalo, N.Y., since being traded to Edmonton by the Bandits for a pair of first-round draft picks in the off-season.

"But it was just an honour to be named to the all-star team and be recognized, especially with such a talented league," Corbeil said. "It was tough, especially because it was back in Buffalo. That would have been a nice little sort of homecoming for me, if you will."

Instead, his inaugural reunion with his former teammates will happen Saturday night at Rexall Place (7 p.m., NLL.com).

"I think it's going to be emotional for me, to be honest," said Corbeil, who was drafted 14th overall by Buffalo three years ago. "The biggest thing for me is trying to keep those emotions in check.

"Any athlete can say what he wants about getting traded but there's always a sense of pride and you want to prove to the team that traded you away that they made a mistake.

"There's no doubt I have enough motivation heading into this week, considering our position that we need the win, regardless of whom we're playing, but just the fact that it's Buffalo makes this one a little extra special for me, for sure."

While the Rush are trying to get a leg up in the standings and increase their half-game lead over the ninth-place Washington Stealth, Corbeil is taking his recovery one step at a time.

Besides playing in the CIS championship hockey tournament, he has already been back for two weeks of the NLL schedule thanks to successful foot surgery.

"I'd be lying if I said it was 100%, but we've got to the point where it's good enough to play on anyway," Corbeil said. "They put a screw in there, so it's not going anywhere."

And neither will Corbeil, according to Rush head coach and GM Derek Keenan, who was called the Danny Ocean of the NLL, after basically robbing the defender from Buffalo in the trade for two draft picks.

"He's back pretty much 100% healthy now," Keenan said. "I thought last week he was real good both defensively and running the floor. He's a very good athlete and health is a big part of that."


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