Vancouver Stealth is starting the year right – two wins in the first two games of the season.
The Langley-based team defeated the Roughnecks 12-11 on Friday night inside the Scotiabank Saddledome, in Calgary, then quashed the Colorado Mammoths Saturday by a score of 15-9.
In game play Saturday, it was smooth sailing for the Stealth heading into half time.
Rhys Duch netted a hat trick while Logan Schuss and Corey Small had a pair each, leaving the Stealth on top 7-4 after two.
But Colorado would answer back with four goals to open the third and quickly take an 8-7 lead.
The Stealth would not have been blamed if their play happened to fall off for the rest of the game, said head coach and assistant general manager Jamie Batley.
They were in the second half of back-to-backs, travelled more than 2,100 kilometres in 48 hours and were on a flight in the morning when most of the Mammoth players were still sleeping. But that was not the case.
“We were looking down at their bench and they looked more tired than we did and that gave us momentum. The guys worked hard and it paid off,” Batley said.
“Work hard they did,” he added. In fact, Joel McCready, Schuss, and Duch rattled off three goals in 52 seconds which was the quickest three goals the Stealth have scored since January 2014.
It did not end there, as Vancouver continued to stockpile goals off the sticks of Justin Salt, Schuss, Travis Cornwall and two more from Duch.
“We had a really good game plan heading into this game. The coaching staff put us in the position to be successful and I was lucky that I benefited with six goals,” Duch said.
“I know where Corey (Small) is going to be, we have confidence in each other but the fact remains the whole offensive unit was unbelievable this weekend.”
Duch had a “marvelous night,” which included six goals and three assist, Small registered two goals and five assists, and Schuss added four goals and two assists.
Between the wickets, goalie Tyler Richards had another outstanding performance playing in all 60 minutes, allowing only 9 goals and stopping 43 shots.
The day before
During Friday’s game, Duch started the scoring off 26 seconds into the first quarter and the goals kept coming for Vancouver.
The Stealth scored two goals in 40 seconds from McCready and rookie Tommy McKee notched his first goal of his National Lacrosse League career.
The Stealth added two more goals to end the first and chase Roughnecks’ rookie goalie Christian Del Bianco from the crease not once but twice.
Small and Duch both tallied goals early in the second while Keegan Bal andSchuss helped close out a 9-6 lead for Vancouver at the half. In the third, defence took over as Vancouver scored two goals on 15 shots and increased their lead to 11-7.
Keegan Bal recorded the only goal in the fourth for the Stealth, while the Roughnecks peppered goaltender Richards with 19 shots and scored four goals in the fourth including a Wes Berg tally in the final two minutes of play.
The Stealth held on to a 12-11 victory with Bal scoring the game winning goal.
It was a banner night for Small. He scored three goals and added five helpers to lead the Stealth passed the Roughnecks.
“I have been playing with Rhys for five years now so a lot of this has become second nature. He is such a talented player and when you give him the ball you know there is going to be a good scoring chance,” Small said after the game.
The Stealth were led by Small, while Duch (7 points), Bal (5 points), Schuss (4 points), McKee (3 points), and Justin Salt (2 points) all had multi-point games.
Richards had what team members described as an outstanding performance in net, appearing in all 60 minutes making 36 saves including 15 in the fourth.
The team spent the evening in Calgary, and jumped on a 6 a.m. flight this morning bound for Denver, where they will take on the Mammoth tonight (Saturday, Jan. 7).
Colorado is led by Callum Crawford who had 115 points in the 2016 season and scored 2 goals and 3 assists in the Mammoth’s victory over Buffalo in Week 1.
Next game at home
The Stealth’s home opener will take place next Saturday, Jan. 14, against the Calgary Roughnecks at the Langley Events Centre.
Tickets are available at the Langley Events Centre Box Office at 604-882-8800 or visit Ticket Rocket.co or email support@TicketRocket.co