There were plenty of goals in the Vancouver Stealth’s home opener on Saturday – unfortunately for Langley’s pro lacrosse team, the bulk of them were scored by the New England Black Wolves.
The Black Wolves beat the Stealth 17-7 in Vancouver’s National Lacrosse home opener at the Langley Events Centre.
A recorded 4,230 fans watched the first visit to the LEC in team history for the Black Wolves, who trailed in the all-time series 1-0.
Eric Penney started in net for the Stealth, while Evan Kirk got the call for the visitors.
Langley product Garrett Billings opened the scoring for the Stealth on the power play at the 4:35 mark of the opening quarter with a pinpoint shot for his first in a Stealth uniform. Rhys Duch and Corey Small earned the assists.
Shortly after, New England countered with two straight goals from Kyle Buchanan and Pat Saunders to take a 2-1 lead.
Before the 10 minute mark, Joel McCready scored his first of the year after finishing off a tremendous pass by Duch.
At 12:13, the reigning NLL MVP Shawn Evans scored the first of four goals on the night to give his squad the lead again.
However, just over two minutes later, Corey Small found room past Kirk over the left shoulder to even up the score at 3-3.
The Black Wolves began the second quarter with three straight goals in under two minutes to grab a 6-3 advantage.
The Stealth got back on the board with a low hard shot from Duch to snag his first of the season and cut the deficit to two. After Evans scored his second of the game, Travis Cornwall scored an unassisted breakaway goal for his first in a Stealth jersey.
Tyler Garrison would score the last goal for the Stealth before the half, but the Black Wolves got two more from Ryan Hotaling and Saunders to take a 9-6 lead after 30 minutes.
“We had some nice chances, but couldn’t score. We did not capitalize on that four-minute power play and it hurt us,” Stealth head coach Dan Perreault said.
The second half was controlled by the Black Wolves from start to finish.
After Duch opened the second half scoring, the visitors responded with three straight goals which ended Penney’s night in net.
Backup Chris Levis played the rest of the game between the pipes for Vancouver.
The Stealth had difficulty generating any sort of offence the rest of the way, and saw the Black Wolves score five unanswered goals to take it by a score of 17-7.
“I thought we looked a little slow out there,” Perreault said, after the loss. “We seemed we weren’t moving our feet very well and struggled to find any open looks in the second half. They have a good team over there and they outworked us tonight.”
On a positive note for the Stealth, Billings started his Stealth career off on the right foot by leading the offense with a goal and four assists.
“I could of put a few more in the net and had some opportunities in the second half that I couldn’t capitalize on,” Billings said. “I thought their goalies played one of the best games I have seen a goaltender play in this league.”
The second half was the difference in the game where the Black Wolves outscored the Stealth 8-1.
“I thought we had some opportunities to score, but the ball wasn’t going in,” Billings said. “We then started to play how we were not supposed to play, which ended up hurting us. We will have to learn from that moving forward.”
Kirk picked up the win in goal for New England stopping 49 of 56 shots, while Penney was charged the loss allowing 12 goals on 33 shots.
The Stealth hit the road next week to take on the defending champion Saskatchewan Rush this Friday, at 5:30 p.m.
Their next home game is Saturday, Jan. 23 against the Colorado Mammoth at the LEC with a 7 p.m. game time.