Langley’s Stealth snap six-game skid by taming Wolves

Langley’s pro lacrosse team spent its Sunday morning beating a pack of Wolves.

Rookie netminder Eric Penney stopped 59 shots and picked up his first career National Lacrosse League win as the Langley-based Vancouver Stealth defeated the New England Black Wolves 11-9 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.

After trailing 2-0 in the first quarter, the Stealth used a string of five straight goals and would not look back, winning their fifth game of the season and in the process moving into third place and the final playoff spot in the West Division.

The loss snapped the Stealth’s six-game winless skid and improved their record to 5-10.

While the Stealth’s record is less than stellar, their five wins are already one more than they had all of last season, when they finished with a dismal 4-14 mark in their first year playing out of the Langley Events Centre (LEC).

Joel McCready scored a hat trick while Rhys Duch (two goals, three assists) and Tyler Digby (one goal, four assists) scored a game-high five points.

Corey Small chipped in with four points (two goals, two assists) while Justin Salt and Logan Schuss each had a goal and two assists in the victory.

Vancouver’s Cliff Smith started the run scoring his eighth goal of the season at the 8:54 mark of the first quarter to cut New England’s lead to 2-1.

Corey Small tied the game on the power play on a quick stick goal, finishing off a nice pass from Duch to even the game at 2-2. Joel McCready would give Vancouver its first lead of the game, diving through the crease and finding a hole past goaltender Evan Kirk for his 23rd tally of the season.

The Stealth finished their 5-0 run with goals from Small and Duch and went into halftime with a 5-4 lead.

The second half started exactly the way the visitors hoped it would. Vancouver scored the opening three goals of the third quarter including a short-handed goal from Duch, who put home his team-leading 33rd goal on a great individual effort as the forward rifled a shot past Kirk, making it 6-4.

Digby, McCready and Salt also scored in the quarter as the Stealth led 9-6 heading into the final frame.

The fourth quarter saw teams alternate goals with Logan Schuss scoring his first of the game and 18th of the season.

McCready’s third marker of the game sealed the deal as it was another gritty goal in front of the crease with under four minutes to play to put Vancouver up 11-8.

New England got one back to cut the lead to 11-9 but after that, the Stealth hung on and come away with their first win away from the LEC since the opening week of the NLL, when they defeated Calgary on Jan. 3.

Penney was voted the game’s first star. He was making his fourth straight start in place of Tyler Richards and looked stellar from the start of the game, only giving up four goals in the second half and making some timely saves on the penalty kill. The 21-year-old was peppered with 68 shots but never backed down and got some retribution after being replaced by Cody Hagedorn in Friday night’s loss in Toronto.

Mitch McMichael was dominant in the faceoff circle winning 75 per cent of his draws (18-24).  

The Stealth still control their own destiny as they’re one-half game up on Calgary for the final playoff spot in the West and have a game in hand on the Roughnecks.

Vancouver returns home for another important match-up against the three-time defending champion Rochester Knighthawks on Saturday, April 18 at the LEC.

Opening face-off is at 7 p.m. and the first 1,000 fans will receive a free Stealth lunch bag.

Rock stymies Stealth

The Stealth dropped a 14-7 contest to the NLL-leading Toronto Rock on Friday night at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.

Duch and Small led Vancouver with three points apiece while Tyler Digby and Logan Schuss each scored two points.

Brett Hickey scored a career-high 11 points (seven goals, four assists) for the Rock while Kevin Crowley, Josh Sanderson and Kevin Ross chipped in with six points each.

Eric Penney started in net for Vancouver, stopping 31 shots. He was replaced by rookie Cody Hagedorn in the fourth quarter, who made in his NLL debut.

Vancouver’s usually solid power play struggled, going 2-6 on the man advantage with goals coming from Digby and Joel McCready.

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