The Washington Stealth have named Kyle Sorensen as the team's new captain for the 2013 season. Photo Credit: Richard Olson
The Washington Stealth announced that the team has agreed to a one-year contract with goaltender Tyler Richards, pending approval by the National Lacrosse League. Richards is entering his fifth NLL season since being drafted by the Stealth in the 2008 NLL Entry Draft.
Richards has established himself as one of the NLL’s top goaltenders and a fan favorite at the Comcast Arena at Everett. The Vancouver, B.C., native logged a career-high 723 minutes in 13 games last season, posting a 12.70 goals against average and .771 save percentage. In his regular season career, Richards is 16-20 with an 11.72 goals against average and .778 save percentage in 2206 minutes of action.
“It’s rare that you see a goaltender establish himself among the league’s elite at such a young age,” said Stealth General Manager Doug Locker. “But Tyler has done just that and has become the anchor of our defense. He’s mature beyond his years and has the complete trust of his teammates, coaches and the entire Stealth organization. We couldn’t be happier to have him on board for another season.”
At just 26 years old, which is young for a starting NLL goaltender, Richards has already made a name for himself as a big game netminder. He’s appeared in eight postseason games in his career, going 6-2 with a 10.13 goals against average and .807 save percentage in 456 mintues.
Richards’ breakout performance came during the 2010 postseason, where he led the Stealth to its first NLL title with a 9.90 goals against average and .807 save percentage in three games, including a 50-save performance in the NLL Championship Game. He followed that performance with another dominant postseason in 2011, leading the Stealth back to the NLL Championship game with a 7.71 goals against average and .854 save percentage.
The Stealth have also announced the three players that will serve as captains of the team for the 2013 National Lacrosse League Season. Six-year NLL veteran Kyle Sorensen has been named the team’s new captain, with forward Rhys Duch and defenseman Mike Grimes named assistant captains.
Sorensen served as an assistant captain for the Stealth in 2012, his sixth season with the team. Originally selected with the second overall pick of the 2006 NLL Entry Draft, Sorensen has appeared in 75 regular season games and 11 playoff games for the Stealth. He’s accumulated 54 career points (23g, 31a) and 390 loose balls in his career, including six points (3g, 3a) and 41 loose balls in 13 games in 2012.
“It’s pretty special to have the opportunity to wear the ‘C’ for the Stealth,” said Sorensen, who will also be moving to the Puget Sound region for the 2013 season. “It’s an incredible honor, but I don’t think it will change the way I play or the way I go about my business. I am very excited to be engrained into the local lacrosse community and in all the non-profit work the Stealth does.”
Widely regarded as one of the league’s top defenders, Sorensen has also established himself as the consummate leader for the Stealth despite being just 26 years old. His toughness, tenacity and willingness to put the team first made the decision to name the Peterborough, Ontario native captain an easy one for Stealth Head Coach Chris Hall.
“Kyle is a born leader and his ascendance to the captaincy is, for me, the expected progression in his professional lacrosse career,” said Hall, who has coached Sorensen for the last four seasons. “Kyle is the guy. He’s a highly respected role model, an inspiration in the locker room, a vocal presence on the floor and a crafty strategist. We’ll be well served by his command.”
Duch, who is entering his fifth NLL season, is a first-time assistant captain for the Stealth. One of the NLL’s most lethal scoring threats, Duch has appeared in all but two games for the Stealth since being drafted by the team with the third overall pick of the 2009 NLL Entry Draft. A two-time NLL All-Pro, Duch has 344 points (143g, 201a) in just 62 career games. Duch still holds the NLL rookie scoring record after posting 89 points in 2009 en route to the Rookie of the Year Award. In 2012, the Victoria, British Columbia native tallied 79 points (33g, 46a) and 84 loose balls in 14 games played.
“It’s a tremendous honor and privilege to be named an assistant captain for the Stealth,” said Duch. “It’s a sign of the organization putting its trust in you. With it comes a great deal of responsibility and it’s something I do not and will not take lightly. I’m looking forward to getting on the floor with my teammates and bringing another NLL Championship to Washington.”
Grimes enters his seventh NLL season in 2013, his fifth with the Stealth. Grimes entered the NLL as the sixth overall pick in the 2006 Entry Draft. He played the 2008 season with the Edmonton Rush before joining the Stealth in 2009. In his career, Grimes has tallied 66 points (28g, 38a) and 433 loose balls in 81 games. Grimes, a native of Peterborough, Ontario, notched 12 points (6g, 6a) and 65 loose balls in 2012 despite missing three games due to injury. He established himself as one of the top offensive defensemen in the NLL in 2011, leading all NLL defensemen in goals (11) and points (21), both career highs. His 10 assists and 103 loose balls were also career highs in his 2011 All-Star season. 2013 will be his second season as an assistant captain for the Stealth.
“We have a lot of leaders in our locker room, it’s not just about wearing a letter,” said Grimes. “While some guys are more vocal leaders, I try to lead by example and do everything I can to help the team win. It’s a great honor to be named a captain.”
Coach Hall understands the importance of having a strong group of leaders on the floor and in the locker room, and believes this trio exemplifies everything he expects from a team’s captains.
“Of course it is an honor and privilege to wear a letter on your uniform,” he said. “It represents an expression of confidence and respect from players, coaches, management and ownership in the capabilities of those chosen to lead from within the players’ ranks. I am certain that Kyle, Mike and Rhys are the right choices to help power us back to the top.”
The Stealth begins the 2013 season on January 5, when the team plays host to the defending NLL Champion Rochester Knighthawks at the Comcast Arena at Everett.