The shoe was on the other foot this time for the Vancouver Stealth. The Stealth jumped out to a 4-1 lead 10 minutes into Saturday night’s National Lacrosse League game against that Toronto Rock only to see the visitors seize control in the second quarter.
In Week 1, it was Vancouver which scored 11 unanswered goals to defeat the Calgary Roughnecks 18-14. But Toronto denied the Stealth a 2-0 start with the 20-11 victory.
The Rock’s Josh Sanderson, who had seven assists last week, finished with four goals and 14 points (4+10) as Toronto improved to 2-0 on the season.
“We knew what was going to happen in the first five minutes,” Sanderson said. “They were going to run on us and beat us up. Once we got our legs, we were good.”
“We watched them come out and run on us and our offense was flatfooted,” said Rock coach John Lovell. “Once we cleaned that up, it allowed our offense to do what they do.”
Toronto used a dominating second quarter which saw them outscore Vancouver 8-2 for a 10-6 halftime lead. And the third quarter was much of the same as the Rock scored the period’s first five to put the game out of reach. Altogether it was a 14-2 run from the end of the first quarter and into the third quarter, which gave the Rock an insurmountable lead as Toronto led 15-8 after three quarters.
Lovell was especially impressed by his defense, which allowed just four goals combined over the second and third quarters.
Stealth coach Dan Perreault said win or lose, every game is a learning experience.
“We learned that, when you do it as a five-man offense, you are rewarded and have success,” he said, adding that the Stealth were relying too much on individualistic goals.
One bright spot for the Stealth was Rhys Duch setting a new franchise record for points. The Vancouver sniper had a goal and an assist in the first quarter to pass Gary Rosyski’s 530 points.
“It’s great to be the team’s all-time points leader but I wish the end result was different,” Duch said.
Duch finished the night with three goals and an assist in the losing effort.
“Rhys is a dynamic player, an explosive player,” Perreault said. “He steps up every game to play.”
The Rock offense was led by Sanderson’s 14 points (4+10), while Rob Hellyer (6+4) also had a big game. Brett Hickey (3+3) and Kasey Beirnes (1+4) also contributed offensively.
Heller had 15 shots as Toronto fired 55 shots on Tyler Richards and Eric Penney. Richards allowed 16 goals on 47 shots while Penney allowed four on eight.
The Rock also got big games from Rob Hellyer (6+4), Brett Hickey (3+3) and Kasey Beirnes (1+4).
“They (Sanderson and Hellyer) generate things, make things happen,” Lovell said.
The Stealth were led by Duch’s five points (3+2), Tyler Digby (2+3), Ilija Gajic (1+3) and Lewis Ratcliff (1+3).
Three Stars of the Game as selected by the media:
1) Josh Sanderson
2) Rob Hellyer
3) Rhys Duch
Vancouver is back in action at home on Saturday, Jan. 17 when they host the Buffalo Bandits for the only NLL game in Week 3. The Rock are off next week before playing their home opener on Friday, Jan. 23 against Buffalo.
Story by Gary Ahuja (@VanStealthBeat) for NLL.com. Photo by Garrett James.