October 16, 2012

NLL Top Pick Matthews Signs Contract With Rush

from staff reports

EDMONTON — The Edmonton Rush welcomed their first overall 2012 draft prospect Mark Matthews to Rexall Place today. The Rush announced that Matthews has signed a one year term agreement for the 2013 season.

"I am very happy to officially be a member of the Rush organization, it feels great to have the formalities completed and I look forward to training camp in November," Matthews said.

The Rush selected Matthews with the No. 1 overall pick in the NLL Entry Draft held Oct. 1 in Toronto. An All-American from Denver University, the 6-foot-4, 230-pound forward is one of the most highly regarded draft-eligible players over the past 15 years, and is expected to instantly spark the Rush offense when the team begins the 2013 NLL season in January.

"He's got all the tools," said Keenan, who coached Matthews in junior with the Whitby Warriors.

"He shoots the ball a hundred miles an hour. He passes well, sees the floor, good on the power play. He can shoot accurately from outside and he can finish on the inside.

"He's a playmaker ... he can flat-out make plays. He's got all the attributes that will make him a very good player."

A dynamic offensive presence, Matthews finished his four-year career at Denver with a school record 216 points and 155 goals. The Oshawa, Ontario, product also completed his collegiate tenure on a 45-game point scoring streak, which helped him earn his second straight ECAC First Team honors and All-American status. Along with being the ECAC's Offensive Player of the Year, Matthews' collegiate accolades included 30 hat tricks and 21 power-play goals, and completing his time at Denver as the second-leading active goal scorer and fourth active leader in career points amongst all NCAA players.

"He loves the game and he wants to play for us. He's a good kid and I think the fans in Edmonton are really going to like him," offered Keenan, who knows what he's getting in Matthews.

The star forward helped lead Keenan's Whitby Warriors to the 2011 Minto Cup national Junior 'A' championship before moving to Denver and putting up back-to-back All-American seasons with the Pioneers. The win with Whitby was Matthews' second straight Minto success after being part of the victorious Coquitlam club in 2010.

It's a great fit with Matthews knowing full well how he'll be put into use with the Rush. And when it comes to execution, there's little that the Oshawa, Ont., native can't do. Matthews projects as a complete package offensive threat – a potential scoring dynamo that the Rush have never had in the lineup before.

Matthews already has a taste of pro lacrosse as he was taken in the first round of last year's MLL College Draft by his home-town Denver Outlaws. In just nine regular-season games, Matthews put up 19 goals and nine assists – four of his goals coming in his debut against Chesapeake.

Throw Matthews into a Rush lineup that went to the NLL Champion's Cup final a year ago, and there's instant excitement flashing before the coach's eyes.

"Our left side will have Zack Greer, Corey Small and Mark Matthews. They all bring different elements but they're all highly skilled. They're athletic, they're quick, they can shoot, they can pass, and they're good one-on-one. With the guys we have on the right side, I think we've got the makings of a very good, dynamic offense."

Matthews will be visiting numerous sites this week in the City of Edmonton. His first visit this afternoon will be taking to the field with St. Francis Xavier High School field lacrosse students with former Rush Assistant Captain Jamey Bowen.


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