For the second time in the last seven years, the Saskatchewan Rush has started the season with consecutive losses.
While a younger, inexperienced team may start to hit the panic button after a slower start than expected, you won’t find that sentiment anywhere near this locker room full of veterans.
The two defeats the team has suffered have been agonizingly close matches. One was a setback in overtime following a disallowed goal from Rush, the other a back-and-forth battle with arch-rivals Calgary Roughnecks, who scored the winning goal with less than two minutes left in the fourth quarter.
Calgary Roughnecks beat Saskatchewan Rush 11-10 with Dickson’s hat trick
“We could easily be sitting 2-0 and singing a different tune,” captain Chris Corbeil said. “But we don’t have the breaks. We have to play tighter and we have to play better ”.
On top of that, the team has history on its side.
The last two times the Rush started a season 0-2 (2015 and 2017) the team made it to the National Lacrosse League final.
“I reminded the guys in the room, I think in 2015 we started 0-2 and won the championship (like Edmonton Rush),” Corbeil said. “So, we are far from finished here.”
“I finished first a lot and lost in the first round,” added 16-year veteran forward Jeff Shattler. “So it doesn’t matter where you end up as long as you make the playoffs and that’s the name of the game in the National League.”
The dominant offensive dynamos at Rush’s disposal have yet to hit the ground running in the early days of the season, something the group has not worried about considering defense play thus far.
“I think for every team in the league that we’ve seen, at the start of the season with a long layoff, the defenses are a little bit ahead of the (offense),” explained head coach Jeff McComb.
Saskatchewan Rush opens season 12-11 in overtime against Halifax Thunderbirds
The team has also seen a major change in staffing during the nearly two-year hiatus out of the NLL, with only 12 of the 21 active players returning from their 2020 active roster.
“I think the representatives help,” Corbeil explained. “That’s game reps, practice reps and we’re limited, it’s the nature of the league.”
“Our (offensive) group probably has the most new players in the mix,” McComb said. “So try to balance that and figure out what the responsibilities are, definitely.”
“We are missing some guys that we had on the right side from last year,” Shattler added. “But those excuses, you know that professional athletes have to find a way, there is no yes, but about it.”
The team has one game remaining on the schedule before the league-wide bye week over the Christmas break. That contest occurs Friday night in Vancouver against the Warriors.
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