2022-2023 Record: 8-10, 5th place in the West Division, missed the playoffs
New Faces: Zach Manns, Patrick Dodds, Frank Scigliano, Cam Wengreniuk, Adam Jay, Nathaniel Kozevnikov, Jamie Dilks, Keegan Bell, Gabriel Procyk, Mike Triolo, Nick Preston, Bruce Alexander (offensive coordinator)
Key Losses: Mark Matthews, Kyle Rubisch, Ryan Dilks, Matt Beers, Austin Madronic, Dan Lintner, Marty Dinsdale, Rhys Duch, Alex Buque, Eric Penney
Young and athletic. Those are two words that will easily describe this Saskatchewan Rush team for the 2023-2024 season. General Manager Derek Keenan was busy this off-season trying to rebuild a team that missed the playoffs for the past two seasons.
It would look like a huge loss losing names like Mark Matthews, Kyle Rubisch, and Dan Lintner. However, Derek Keenan replaced them with top-notch younger talent with the likes of 2022 NLL Rookie of the Year Patrick Dodds, Zach Manns, Cam Wengreniuk, Nathaniel Kozevnikov, Mike Triolo, Adam Jay and Jamie Dilks. It will be a young core that can stay together for five or six years and cause some havoc in this league.
After last season, Keenan wrote an open letter to the Saskatchewan Rush fans saying he would get them back into the playoffs and with this roster, there is no reason why they shouldn’t. Even if they struggle, this should still be a fun team to watch that will be competitive.
Yes, there were some key players lost over the off-season. Unfortunately, they were aging players that Keenan felt was time to move on from.
Anchoring this new group will be veteran Robert Church on the right side with newly acquired Patrick Dodds which will be a formidable duo. Kozevnikov and Triolo will likely be battling it out for the third spot on the right-hand side. However, there might be some concerns as there is not much depth after that. Don’t be surprised if they pick up a player or two once cuts come out in training camp.
On the left side, the Rush will be leaning on the veteran presence of Ryan Keenan. Manns is coming off a career year in the WLA over the summer, leading the league with 89 points including 44 goals and 45 assists. His NLL stats have been limited but given the chance he could be a star in this league. Clark Walter is heading into his sophomore season as a starter after an impressive showing midway through last year. Add Wengreniuk, Procyk, and Preston and there is plenty of depth on the right side.
Again, another young core. What will be interesting is who will step up as a leader. The Rush lost a lot of veteran leadership in Rubisch, Beers and Dilks. They will likely be looking towards guys like Connor McClelland, Bobby Kidd III, and Holden Garlent to take on the leadership roles. Faceoff specialist Mike Messenger, who can really play both offense or defense. You can plug and play him anywhere.
Ryan Barnable and Jake Boudreau are back for their second season. Adam Jay was acquired from Toronto who will also give Saskatchewan some speed from the back end. The Rush lost one Dilks but gained another. Jamie Dilks who will likely get to see more playing time with Saskatchewan as opposed to Toronto.
This was the biggest question mark last year. Putting it bluntly, Alex Buque and Eric Penney just didn’t get the job done and were wildly inconsistent.
The Rush released both of those players and made a move for Frank Scigliano. While “Frank The Tank” has also had issues with consistency, he will at least bring a bit more stability in net.
Warman, Sask., product Laine Hruska made history last season. He was the first-ever Saskatchewan-born goaltender to start for the Rush and to pick up a win for the Rush. He was solid in his starts and will be the backup without a doubt.
Finally, the Rush drafted Thomas Kiazyk, who will more than likely end up on the practice roster as the third goalie.