Sunday, December 23, 2018
CHURCH IS IN! RUSH STAR SIGNS NEW 3-YEAR DEAL
Church finished the 2018 campaign as the runner-up for league MVP honors to teammate Mark Matthews while smashing all his previous bests in goals, assists and points including a 30-point jump in points from the 2017 season. The Coquitlam, B.C., product notched his first 40-goal season as he racked up 47 goals after three straight seasons of 30-plus goals. He also reached the 100-point plateau for the first time with 107 points and added 60 assists.
“Robert is a very important part of our team,” said Rush GM/head coach Derek Keenan. “It was no surprise at all to us what he was able to accomplish last year. He scores a lot because he shoots the ball so well. He’s a great shooter, but he works hard at it.
“The sky’s the limit for him really, and he’s really underrated for his athleticism. He’s got great feet, can create his own space when he needs to, and he’s a great player without the ball, too.
“He’s a big part of our offence. All of our guys benefit from working with one another. They work so well together and they’re all unselfish. None of care about who scores or how many. It’s all about the team’s success and we want to keep having more of the success we’ve enjoyed.”
The sixth-year pro will be in the lineup when the Rush open their 2019 season on Friday, December 28th on the road against the New England Black Wolves.
“I’m happy that we were able to get a deal done before next week’s game against New England,” said Church. “I’m excited to see the guys and get going on this season.”
Church’s stellar performance last season earned him a spot on the 2018 NLL All-Pro First Team. He continued to be one the league’s top power-play contributors as he finished with second in the league with 27 power-play assists, only behind Matthews’ 32. Church’s three-year reign as the top power-play goal-scorer ended, but he was still amongst the league-leaders with 14 power-play goals.
Originally selected fifth overall in the 2013 NLL Entry Draft out of Drexel University, Church is now second on the Rush’s all-time scoring list with a total of 414 points in only 88 regular-season games. He enters the 2019 season with 175 goals and needing just 10 goals to pass Zack Greer and move into second place on the club’s all-time goal-scoring list.
Church has played a key role in each of the Rush’s championship playoff runs. Last season as the Rush claimed their third NLL title in four years, Church registered eight goals and seven assists for 15 points. He now has 36 goals and 43 assists for 79 points in only 19 career playoff games.
(Rush PR/Brandon Urban)