Defense has rarely been an issue for the Edmonton Rush this season. The names coming out of the back door for the 2012 National Lacrosse League season are some of the game’s youngest and brightest stars, so it really came as no surprise to see the Rush end the regular season among the league’s leaders in many of the statistical categories. But as much as it is a team effort, someone back there has to be leading the way. Someone back there has to be making the plays and someone back there has to be the example, has to be “that” guy. Well, that someone is Kyle Rubisch and in just his second NLL season, he is ILIndoor’s Defenseman of the Year.
Brutally strong and marvelously adept, the young Rubisch is not exactly an unknown. He came into the league with Boston and quickly made his presence known there, even collaring a first-place vote in last season’s ballots as a rookie. But this season, it was all Rubes. He was the unanimous pick and if you saw the way he marked fellas like John Grant Jr. during the season, you understand why and how he swept the ballot with 8 first-place votes. That’s no small feat in any season but it’s especially impressive for this 2012 vote considering the top 5 vote-getters all come from the West Division.
He easily outdistanced last year’s top defender, Mike Grimes, and is a big reason the Rush are still alive in the pursuit of the Champion’s Cup. Rubisch led the NLL with an eye-popping 43 forced turnovers, nearly double that of second-place Grimes (26). He ranked sixth in loose balls with 151 and best of all, he did his dirty work without getting dirty. He was whistled for an amazingly low 18 penalty minutes — without a single major — which is pretty astounding when you consider all the whacking and packing the D-men do game in and game out. That was his leadership by example as the entire Rush team chalked up just 269 PIM, fewest in the league by 22 minutes to the next-closest team.
The future’s bright for Rubisch and he’s got plenty of lacrosse left in his legs. Which means we’ll no doubt be hearing from him come voting time at the end of the season for many, many years.
Defender of the Year
Kyle Rubisch, Edmonton: 64 points (8)
Mike Grimes, Washington: 23 points
Rory Smith, Colorado: 22 points
Mike Carnegie, Calgary: 20 points
Jon Sullivan, Colorado: 18 points
Also receiving votes: Andrew McBride, Sandy Chapman, Brett Manney, Curtis Manning, Derek Suddons, Brad Self, Paul Dawson, Andrew Suitor, Jeff Gilbert, Scott Self, Kyle Sorensen.
Voting by ILIndoor staffers Bob Chavez, Stephen Stamp, Ty Pilson, Graeme Perrow, Brian Shanahan, Teddy Jenner, Casey Vock and Marty O’Neill.
Coming Monday: ILIndoor’s Transition Player of the Yearbob.firstname.lastname@example.org or go to RochesterSports.com.
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