Ryan Dilks may not find it so easy to lurk in the shadows any longer.
He’s been a trusted member of the Edmonton Rush’s standout defensive unit for three seasons but so far in the 2015 NLL campaign he’s really stepped to the forefront and that’s not an easy task considering that two of his fellow defenders are Kyle Rubisch and Chris Corbeil.
That duo are generally regarded as the top two defenders in the NLL, and last season, Rubisch picked up his third straight Defensive Player of the Year award with Corbeil ending up right behind him in the voting. Those two are still the key anchors of the Rush defense, but now Dilks is making it a triumvirate and all the more difficult on opposing shooters.
Though that doesn’t mean the Hamilton, Ont. product is any more comfortable in the spotlight alongside the two All-Pros.
“I hope not. I was just getting comfortable in the shade,” laughed Dilks, who will try to help the league’s stingiest defense when the Rush host the New England Black Wolves on Friday on Crystal Glass Field at Rexall Place in Edmonton. “Corbs and Rubes are arguably the best two defenders in the game today so I’m just happy they’re on my team and I can learn from both of them.”
While the Rush got off to a roller-coaster start to the season dropping their first two before rebounding last weekend with a decisive victory in Calgary, the six-foot-one, 190-pounder has been solid from the get-go and already boasts some impressive defensive numbers. Dilks leads the Rush and sits tied for fourth in the NLL with seven forced turnovers, and is second on the team with 15 loose balls. But numbers don’t tell the whole story in Dilks’ overall game.
“Loose balls and turnovers were never a huge concern for me,” Dilks explained. “As long as I’m happy, my coaches are happy, and we’re winning games then I’m doing something right.
“If anything that’s changed, now in my fifth year in the league, I’m gaining experience and more confidence every game. Plus I beat Nik Bilic in ping pong every day so that always puts me in a good mood.”
Dilks came to the Rush in 2011, selected 11th overall in…