By Gary Abuja | NLL.com Staff Writer
Photo Garrett James
Two goals in the first half and a season-low seven goals were all the Vancouver Stealth could muster last weekend as they took on the Toronto Rock.
The Rock had eight goals in the first half alone, which was more than enough offense as they handed the visiting Stealth a 13-7 defeat in National Lacrosse League action. The loss was a second in a row for Vancouver, which saw its record fall to 5-8 and their lead for the final playoff spot in the NLL’s West Division, trimmed to a half game over Calgary.
Toronto won for a second straight night, improving to 8-5, just a half game behind Georgia for top spot in the East Division.
The Stealth get another crack at the Rock as the teams meet up on Friday night (March 31) at the Langley Events Centre (10:30 p.m. EST).
Corey Small had a goal and three assists last week against Toronto, and is tied for the league lead in points with 82.
Playing the same opponent back-to-back should help the team correct its mistakes. “We can look at the film from the last game and it will still be fresh in our minds of what we did wrong,” he said. Small knows it won’t be an easy task getting the of fence back on track. “The process is working — we are getting a lot of opportunities to score in a game — but we just have to be a little more patient, take that split second more to pick a corner rather than just shoot the ball on net,” he said.
Standing in their way will likely be Nick Rose once again. The goaltender has played every second of this season — unless he has been on the bench for an extra attacker — and leads the league with a 9.64 goals against average and is second with a .794 save percentage.
“He is not going to give up too many cheap ones to get through him; maybe we just have to take that split second more to be aware where we are shooting the ball,” Small said.
The Stealth are no slouches in goal either, as Tye Belanger is third in save percentage (.792) and fifth in GAA (11.15). A key will not be getting deterred by a slow start. “We can’t get frustrated because frustration tends to lead to poor play and bad decision making,” Small said. “We have been a team all year that when we don’t stick to our offence or our system we struggle. The process is working, we are getting the opportunities to score so we just have to stay true to what we doing and being coached to do and bear down when we are shooting the ball.”