Rush in town for final preparations, and a pre-season game

The Saskatchewan Rush are back together, with a long season ahead and a tough labour dispute left behind.

The Rush convened in Saskatoon Friday, holding a training-camp session in advance of Saturday’s pre-season game against the visiting Calgary Roughnecks (7:30 p.m., SaskTel Centre).

Here’s some things to know as they continue their National Lacrosse League preparations.

Back From Toronto

The Rush held their first training-camp session last weekend in Toronto, staging workouts and playing the Toronto Rock to a 12-12 scrimmage tie. The Rock led 10-4 at halftime, but Saskatchewan chipped away in the second half and eventually salvaged the draw.

“There wasn’t as much rust as I thought there would be,” Saskatchewan head coach and general manager Derek Keenan said this week. “We had a lot of new bodies on the defensive side, and some breakdowns in the first half against Toronto, then played a lot harder and better in the second half. Overall, a really good weekend. The guys worked hard, and everybody’s fit.”

Fresh Face

The Rush swung a trade earlier this week, acquiring veteran defender Travis Cornwall from the Vancouver Warriors (previously Vancouver Stealth) in exchange for a second-round draft pick in 2020.

Cornwall is the brother of Rush defender/transition Jeff Cornwall, who is taking this season off after landing a job with the Burnaby Fire Department.

Travis Cornwall, originally drafted by Calgary in 2011, collected four goals, four assists and 32 loose-ball scoops while causing nine turnovers last season for Vancouver.

Inking Deals

The Rush announced a flurry of re-signings over the last several days — inking forward Marty Dinsdale to a three-year pact on Friday, signing Jeremy Thompson and backup goaltender Tyler Carlson to one-year deals on Thursday, and before that, signing Ryan Keenan, Matt Hossack and league MVP Mark Matthews to three-year deals, and Nick Finlay for one year.

Those signings all came after the league and players reached labour peace.

Three other Rush players — Robert Church, Mike Messenger and Nik Bilic — remained unsigned Friday.

The Matchup

Saskatchewan finished first overall in the NLL last season with a 14-4 record, while Calgary was third in the West Division with an 8-10 mark.

The Roughnecks beat Colorado 15-12 in a sudden-death division semifinal before meeting the Rush, who claimed the West Division crown with a 15-13 victory. Saskatchewan went on to beat Rochester 2-1 in their best-of-three league championship final.

Up Next

The Rush get a bye during the NLL’s first two weekends, which means their first game isn’t until Dec. 28, when they travel to New England to play the Black Wolves.

Their home opener is Jan. 5 against the expansion San Diego Seals.

kemitchell@postmedia.com

twitter.com/kmitchsp

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