Looking for stats?

Rush Forward Matthews NLL Rookie of the Month

January 31, 2013 - National Lacrosse League (NLL) - Edmonton Rush News Release

Edmonton, AB - The National Lacrosse League has announced today Rookie of the Month award winner for January of the 2013 NLL regular season.

Forward Mark Matthews, the Rush first overall pick in the 2012 NLL Entry Draft who currently leads all rookies, is tied for seventh in league with scoring, leading the Rush with points (19 points), won the Rookie of the Month award.

Rookie of the Month

Mark Matthews, Edmonton Rush (4 GP, 8G, 11A, 4 LB): Matthews recorded 19 points (8+11) and four loose balls, with a single-game high of nine points (4+5) on Jan. 20 at Washington, as Edmonton posted a 1-2 record in the month of January.

The NLL Player Awards are determined by a vote of the league's general managers and head coaches.

The Rush end goal is to repeat as West Division champions, get back to the Champion's Cup final for a second straight year, and this time around, claim the National Lacrosse League title after falling just short against the Rochester Knighthawks last season. Through three games this season, the Rush have found they have one aspect down cold just as they did a year ago as the Rush are among the best in the NLL at robbery, outright thievery, and ball-hawking. They've also discovered that just as in the past, there's work to be done bumping up the numbers on the scoreboard.

The Rush boast some of the best players in the entire NLL in the relatively new stat category of forced turnovers. Edmonton's group were the best in the business at getting the ball away from their foes last season, and they've picked up right where they left off, dominating the opposition they've faced 29-13 so far this season.

Reigning NLL Defender of the Year Kyle Rubisch and Brett Mydske lead the Rush with five forced turnovers thus far in 2013, and it's sure to be a total that steadily rises to impressive heights throughout the campaign. The ability to garner big numbers in forced turnovers directly links to GM Derek Keenan's desire to focus his drafting and trading on acquiring the top athletes available.

"Our defenders are all good athletes with ability to quickly take away time and space," said Keenan. "This puts a lot of pressure on the offense to make plays quickly."

And when the offense is made to hurry, mistakes happen and the Rush's ball robbers are right there to make the opponent pay.

While the forced turnovers are keeping pace with last year's impressive total, the Rush's overall offense continues to be a focus for Keenan. It's not coming easily, but good things hardly ever do. The talent is there, boosted by recent first-round draft phenoms Mark Matthews and Curtis Knight, and Keenan is hopeful that it's just a matter of time and patience before things gel.

"Consistency is the key and building chemistry is another factor," noted Keenan, whose team has managed just 37 goals through three games - the lowest total in the NLL. On the flipside, the Rush have surrendered only 32 goals - the best total in the league.

While Matthews (8 goals), Corey Small and Ryan Ward (6 goals each) have done their part, the Rush need more depth in their scoring. Goals in from transition attacks, along with a healthy Zack Greer, will go a long way to solving the problem.

"We have six new players on offense this year and it takes time," added Keenan. "But our players have to understand that you aren't going to score on every possession and not to get discouraged. They must grind away at it.

"I also think we need to use our speed more and play with speed more consistently. We tend to get comfortable and start to jog to key areas in the offensive zone rather than sprint and go hard all the time."

Team Notes:

Friday, February 1 @ 1:30 pm Player Availability - Location Rexall Place North Club

Aaron Bold, John Lintz, and Assistant Coach Todd Lorenz

Saturday, February 2 @ 9:00 am Calgary Roughnecks Shoot Around

Crystal Glass Field at Rexall Place

Saturday, February 2 @ 10:00 am Edmonton Rush Shoot Around

Crystal Glass Field at Rexall Place

Saturday, February 2 @7:00 pm Rush vs Roughnecks

Crystal Glass Field at Rexall Place

*Children 12 and under. Max. 2 Free Tickets with the purchase of one adult ticket. Call the Rush Office 780 732-RUSH.

• Discuss this story on the National Lacrosse League message board...

National Lacrosse League Stories from January 31, 2013

The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.

Other Recent Edmonton Rush Stories