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Stealth try to stay alive in must-win matchup against visiting Wings

04/14/2014, 1:00pm EDT
By Stealth beat writer Kyle Donen & Wings beat writer Julie Kayzerman for NLL.com

Watch Philadelphia at Vancouver live exclusively on UniversalSports.com

Philadelphia Wings (5-11) visit Vancouver Stealth (4-11) at Langley Events Centre on Saturday at 10pm ET. (Photo: Todd Bauders)

The Vancouver Stealth (4-11) welcome the Philadelphia Wings (5-11) to Langley Events Centre on Saturday at 10 p.m. ET for a must-win game in order for the Stealth to stay alive in the playoff race. Watch the matchup live exclusively on UniversalSports.com, which is available to U.S. subscribers of Universal Sports Network and for non-subscribers in Canada only.

The combination of a Stealth loss in any of their final three games or one Colorado win, eliminates Vancouver from playoff contention.

The Wings were eliminated from playoff contention after a loss to Toronto last weekend, but they have an opportunity to play spoiler against the Stealth this weekend and against Colorado the following weekend.

It’s a difficult spot for Vancouver to be in, but as Stealth head coach Chris Hall explains, they have to worry about what they can control.

"Focus on Philadelphia," said Hall. "We can't do anything more than just try to win one game."

Even though the Stealth’s chances of making this year’s post season are on thin ice, the players know there’s still lots to play for.

"We're fortunate that we still have a shot," said Stealth defenseman Matt Beers. "We still need a little bit of help from Colorado but at the same time we're focused on our goal and that’s to win lacrosse games. The fans deserve it here in Langley and we need to put on a good show come Saturday."

The Stealth will be hoping history is on their side when they face the Wings this weekend, since the home team is 11-4 all-time.

The Wings may not have much to play for this weekend but that could make them even more dangerous come game time.

"We're preparing one game at a time and that’s all we can do," said Beers.

The Stealth had a rough go against the Wings earlier in the season, losing 15-9 back on February 1. The Wings got off to hot start and never looked back, scoring 10 goals in the opening half. Jordan Hall led the way for the Wings adding eight points (1 goal, 7 assists) to lead all players while Rhys Duch tallied two goals and three assists for the Stealth in a losing cause.

The night also marks Lacrosse Feeds Hunger night at the LEC. The first 1,000 fans to bring a non-perishable food item will receive a Stealth Re-usable bag. Doors open at 8:30 p.m. ET.

After being eliminated from playoff contention with their close loss to the Toronto Rock last weekend, the Philadelphia Wings have a new goal mind: to finish their season on a positive note.

“I think we were disappointed about not making the playoffs,” Wings assistant coach Jim Milligan said. “We want to finish the season as strong as we can.”

Unfortunately, these last two regular season games for the Wings will come at the price of feeling the frustration of their performance this year with, forward Kyle Buchanan describing their shortcoming as an “empty feeling.”

“It’s a frustrating way to end it,” he said. “To have two games left—we have to put that past us and move forward. We’re going to prepare like we need to.”

However, despite the disappointment of losing several close games, this season welcomed the impressive gameplay of young forwards Garrett Thul and Pat Saunders.

“They had a good season, Pat played really excellent and Garrett was a pleasant surprise,” Milligan said. “When we brought him (Thul) in, we weren't really sure what we were going to get out of him. They really stepped up to the plate and they’re really showing off what they can do. I think they proved that they can play in this league and I hope they do it for the last two games.”

Although the season for Philly may be coming to an end a bit too early, they have still found something to play for as they look to begin preparation for next season—starting with the showcasing of their talent in hopes of earning a spot on the roster once again.

“Really at the end of the day, you’ve got to look at what we have left,” Milligan said. “We have two games left and everybody on our roster should be looking at those two games and saying ‘I have to show what I want to do because I want to come back next year.’ So guys that underachieved will hopefully pick it up and guys that are playing well will hopefully keep playing well— and that will make us a better team for the last two games.”

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The Wings at Stealth game will re-air on Universal Sports Network on Thursday, April 24 at 5 p.m. ET.

NLL games on UniversalSports.com are available exclusively to Universal Sports Network subscribers in the United States in addition to being open to all Canadian viewers. For more information about the NLL on Universal Sports Network, including the complete broadcast schedule, please click here.

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