EDMONTON - Forget baby steps, the Edmonton Rush are looking forward to the Small steps they will take in 2013.
Cory Small may be one of eight players tied for 17th in NLL scoring with 16 points, but if you consider his six goals and 10 assists came in just three games, the forward begins climbing the scoring ladder in giant leaps.
He moves all the way up to a three-way tie for sixth among those who have played three games so far, while teammate and first-overall draft pick Mark Matthews one of four players tied for a league-best 19 points in Edmonton’s three games.
The two sit in first and second in scoring on a squad that has marked a changing of the guard in an off-season that saw them trade in experience in order to go younger and faster.
Currently in his fourth NLL season — all with Edmonton under head coach and GM Derek Keenan — the 25-year-old Small suddenly finds himself wearing a veteran tag.
“Well, I’ve been here for a while,” said the five-foot-10, 180-pound Small. “I think for some of the younger guys on offence, it’s definitely my duty to set the example,” said Small. “We’ve got a lot of young guys, so somebody’s got to step up and lead by example out there.”
Small is no stranger to setting the example, leading the Rush with 63 points on 23 goals and 40 assists in his sophomore 2011 season before seeing his production dip to 48 points as he finished third in team scoring last season.
A big reason for Small’s early success in his indoor career is his never-say-die attitude, which contributed to a goal with 8.3 seconds left in last week’s 12-10 loss to the Washington Stealth before their opponents put it away with an empty-netter.
“No, and that’s the way it is,” Small said. “Lacrosse is a game where you can go on a run and score three goals in 30 seconds.
“You don’t ever want to quit before the last whistle.”
Not when there’s even a small chance at victory left.
ZACK’S BACK: The team’s leading goal scorer from last season, Zack Greer, will make his return to the lineup after sitting out last week’s loss with what the team called a minor lower-body injury.
Greer, who had 31 goals last season, has two goals and six points in two games in 2013.
GIMME A ‘D’: The Rush made room for six-foot, 210-pound rookie defender Mike Cudmore, who began the season listed as physically unable to perform, by releasing forward Tom Johnson this week.
“We had Cudmore on the PP with a (knee) infection he had prior to training camp,” Keenan said. “We just didn’t have a lot of depth on the back door and he’s a kid who relocated to Edmonton and he’s living in the market so we obviously needed to get him on the roster.
“We probably had too many offensive guys hanging around and it can get a little bit uncomfortable, I think, so it was the logical thing to do. Tommy did a good job for us for a season and a bit and with Greer out last week, he filled in nicely.”