Adversity breeds character. Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Or, as the famous American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson said: fractures well-cured make us more strong. C’mon, that just sounds cool. However you want to phrase it, experiencing difficulty can be a good thing. Especially for a sports team with championship aspirations. For every team that dominates the regular season and wins a title (Hey, I’m a Bulls fan and lived the glory years of the ’90s), there are many more than put up wins all year until the post-season rolls around when it really matters and then they start losing. Skating through the regular-season, if you’ll pardon the hockey metaphor, doesn’t usually bode well for winning it all at the end. Just look at the Rochester Knighthawks the last two years. They saved their best for last.
So, with that said, Rush fans should be downright ecstatic with the fact their team has lost two of its last three games. The Rush slowly built up a head of steam this year, starting out with some close games before beginning to manhandle the competition. Some nights it looked like men playing boys.
Edmonton dominated in every facet of the game: defence, transition, offence, goaltending, special teams and the ‘intangibles.’ They seemed unbeatable, kind of like the 2007 Patriots. Those Pats went 16-0 during the regular season. Think we all remember how that ended.
Which brings us back to the Rush losses. First they fell to a hungry Mammoth team, whose rookie goalie played lights out. Then they lost to the Roughnecks, who were lucky the ref missed a late over-and-back call after which they scored the tying goal before Curtis Dickson sealed it in extra time with his seventh goal of the game. Losing to your provincial rivals — at home no less — is always hard to swallow.
I’ve heard folks talk about how the Rush didn’t play that well in either game and missed some breaks (like the over-and-back call). That’s the point. The team has now faced some adversity and was reminded if it doesn’t bring its A-game it is, indeed, beatable.
While none of the players would say it publicly, they had to be feeling 10-feet tall and bullet proof at times this season. Two setbacks like this will remind them that’s not the case. Especially in this ‘Any Given Sunday’ parity league.
QUICK STICKS: Hey, an early ’80s hockey game called and it wants that 8-4 score from the Rochester/Buffalo tilt back … One game left in the season and Garrett Billings’ 101 points still leads the field. Shawn Evans (vs. Stealth) and Cody Jamieson (vs. Bandits) both have 98 points and need four points to surpass Billings in their final games. John Grant Jr. with 91 (vs. Wings) would need 11 points, difficult but doable for Junior. Still, my money is on Evans to win the scoring title for the second straight year … What a season for Rush captain Chris Corbeil. He has 16 goals in 17 games, including a hat-trick Saturday against the Riggers. His third of the night — a quickstick on the crease after a great cross-floor pass from Curtis Knight — was as nice a goal as you’ll see. Would love to see him get a few shifts on offence like Brodie Merrill used to in Edmonton, granted Merrill did that on teams without as many star forwards as the Rush have now. Still, would be fun to watch I think … Speaking of money D-man in the offensive zone, Calgary’s Dan McRae has seven goals in 15 games on 17 shots, good for a league-leading 41.2% scoring percentage among defenders … What an absolute catastrophe in Langley this season. There was plenty of optimism around the Stealth’s move to the Lower Mainland. Instead the team will miss the playoffs with the worst record in the West and have not drawn well at the gate. After winning their first two home games, they lost four of their next five. Essentially 2014 was the worst-case scenario for the Stealth. That’s bad news not just for the team but the entire league … Another huge game for rookie Logan Schuss, who collected four goals and seven points in Minny’s loss to Colorado. That performance helped separate him from the rest of the rookie pack as we head down the stretch … Athan Iannucci seems to have finally got his NLL sea legs back under him, collecting eight points against Minny. In his last four games, he now has eight goals and 18 points. That’s a great sign for the Mammoth heading into the post-season … Though the Wings season looks worse on paper than last year, I think Wings fans have plenty of reason to be optimistic. The new approach to a more balanced roster with more Canadians has been a big step forward and the club looks in better shape heading into the off-season than it has in recent years past. There is still a ton of work to be a contender again but they appear headed down the right road.The assistant managing editor of the Calgary Sun, Pilson began covering the NLL when the Roughnecks started in 2000. The longtime lacrosse player has been contributing to Inside Lacrosse ever since. Email him at email@example.com or go to CalgarySun.com.
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