EDMONTON - Ryan Ward has become the most prolific point scorer in Edmonton Rush history.
In just his fourth season with the club, the 10-year veteran forward of the NLL scored a goal and three assists in last week’s 9-8 loss to the Calgary Roughnecks on the way to setting a new club record of 214 points.
Ward’s 85 goals and 129 assists surpass the mark of current team captain Jimmy Quinlan’s 212 points on 100 goals and 112 assists, which he began amassing ever since joining the Rush for their franchise season eight years ago.
Except Ward earned all his in just 53 games — less than half that of Quinlan, a forward-turned-transition player heading into his 117th and 118th in this weekend’s back-to-back games against the Washington Stealth and Colorado Mammoth.
“Jimmy Quinlan and I and Zack Greer were out for some food after the game and he said, ‘Hey, I think you passed me,” said Ward, whose 10 goals and 15 assists have him tied for first in team scoring with first-overall drafted rookie Mark Matthews (12 G, 13 A). “I’ve had a couple years of fairly decent numbers and I think it’s kind of cool.”
At 32, Ward has become the most senior member of the Rush roster this season after finishing second in team scoring behind 38-year-old Shawn Williams last year. He has been asked to fill a big part of the void in experience left behind after the Rush opted to go younger and faster in the off-season.
“Definitely, Ryan’s been great. He’s really kind of taken the group under his wing,” said Rush head coach and GM Derek Keenan. “There’s still a lot of work to be done on that end of the floor.
“But we’re getting the guys to buy in and getting them to understand what we’re trying to do and Ryan’s been a big part of that.”
Matthews was just 13 years old when Ward was drafted third-overall by the Philadelphia Wings in the 2003 NLL draft.
“We had a bunch of (older) guys, I was like number four or five on the team last year and all of a sudden we’ve got 20-year-olds on the team and, bingo, I was older,” said Ward.
“At training camp it was kind of tough to swallow, but the joke is I can still run by guys 10 years younger.”
Ward has been with the Rush since the 2010 season — the year he set the club’s single-season record with 74 points, and also happens to mark the last time Edmonton beat Calgary in a regular-season game — a stretch that covers a dozen losses in a row after last weekend’s.
But Ward also led the way in the two playoff meetings between the provincial rivals, both of which saw Edmonton come out victorious.
“Twelve straight seems to be quite ridiculous. It doesn’t even feel like were in the same league as these guys, competition-wise,” he said. “But I guess we’ve beaten them twice when it counted.
“I’d just like to get one win. I mean, we’re right there. We’ve lost so many one-goal games. I don’t dwell on it too much.”
More concerning than any lop-sided provincial rivalry is the fact the Rush are 1-4 on the season.
“We’ve got a younger group and we just haven’t found our identity yet.”