The National Lacrosse League will officially begin its 18th season of play tonight at 7:30 local time (9:30 EST) when the Arizona Sting make their league debut as they host the Vancouver Ravens inside the new Glendale Arena.
The Vancouver-Arizona game is part of the Grand Opening Weekend of the Arena, which will also serve as home of the Phoenix Coyotes of the National Hockey League. The arena's first-ever NHL regular season game, a showdown between the hometown Coyotes and the Nashville Predators will highlight the Grand Opening Weekend on Saturday, Dec. 27th.
The opening night game will be broadcast to over 50 million households on the league's United States national television partner Fox Sports Net and in eight million homes throughout Canada on the Score Network, the NLL's Canadian national television partner. The game can also be viewed live nationally on DirecTV channel 634 and Dish Network channel 423.
The Arizona Sting return to the turf this year after playing as the Columbus Landsharks last season, where the club finished with a franchise best record of 8-8 and a tie for third place in the Central Division. The club will again look to the veteran leadership of forward Pat Maddalena (40G, 31A), the team's leading scorer last season with 71 points to guide the young squad. The Ravens and forward Chris Gill, last season's fifth highest goal scorer in the NLL with 40 goals, are coming off a successful season of their own after posting a 9-7 record, a 2nd place standing in the Northern Division and a second straight playoff appearance.
Below is the game capsule.
Fri Dec 26 Vancouver Ravens at Arizona Sting 7:30 p.m. (MST) Glendale Arena
TV: The Score Network, Fox Sports Net (Live Dish Network 423/Direct TV 634)
2002-03 Record: Vancouver (9-7, Tied for 2nd Northern Division); Arizona (as Columbus 8-8, Tied for 3rd Central Division)
Key Players for Vancouver: Forward Chris Gill (Tied for 5th in NLL goals with 40 in 2002-03); Forward Dan Stroup (1st in team scoring with 70 points in 02-03); Forward Chris Prat (2nd in team assists with 33 in 02-03)
Head Coach: Paul Dal Monte
Key Players for Arizona: Forward Pat Maddalena (Tied for 5th in NLL goals with 40 in 2002-03); Defenseman Bill Greer (4th in NLL loose balls with 174 in 02-03); Forward Kasey Beirnes (1st in team assists with 35 in 02-03)
Head Coach: Bob Hamley
Notable: In season opening games Vancouver is 1-1 while Arizona is 1-2: The Sting ranked first in NLL Penalty Killing with a .619 percentage while the Ravens placed third in Power Play Scoring with a .512 percentage.
Last Meeting: April 5, 2003 Vancouver 19 at Columbus 7
Tickets: At Glendale Arena Box Office, through Charge-by-Phone at (480) 346-5785 and online at www.Ticketmaster.com