By Gary Ahuja | NLL.com Staff Writer
Whatever was said behind closed doors following the Vancouver Stealth’s loss on Feb. 25 seems to have made a difference.
Since that night’s crushing 12-8 loss to the Rochester Knighthawks — the Stealth’s six defeat in seven games — the team has tasted victory in back-to-back National Lacrosse League contests. Vancouver captain Curtis Hodgson declined to share specifics of the closed-door meeting first with the coaching staff and then among some of the players that night.
But what followed was a 13-9 win over the Saskatchewan Rush on March 4 and most recently, a 10-6 win over the Colorado Mammoth. “I think going into (that Saskatchewan) game, we realized we needed to look inwards at ourselves,” he said. “In this league, the difference between winning and losing is razor thin (and) we have been able to learn from our mistakes and address some of the things that were letting games slip away.”
The consecutive victories improved Vancouver to 5-6.
The team’s next victory will set a new high for wins in a season for the squad since they moved to Langley from Everett four seasons ago.
The Stealth will look for a third straight win as they welcome the Buffalo Bandits (4-6) to the Langley Events Centre on Friday night (10:30 p.m. EST).
Vancouver is 0-3 against the East Division this season, including a 21-15 loss to Buffalo back in early January. The game was tied at 15 early in the fourth quarter before the Bandits exploded for the final six goals. But the Stealth have solidified the goaltending position since allowing their season-high in goals against as off-season acquisition Tye Belanger has started the past six games. He had split the crease with Tyler Richards over the first five games but since being given the net, Belanger has responded with back-to-back 55 and 53-save performances, respectively. He sits first in the league in save percentage (.807) and third in goals against (10.41).
Offensively, Corey Small is coming off another big game as he had two goals and six points against Colorado. The left-hander continues to lead the NLL in scoring with 72 points while sitting second with 29 goals.
Another positive sign for Vancouver was Rhys Duch, who appears back to full health. The right-hander had four goals and an assist in the most recent game. Prior to that, he had just two goals and two assists in the previous two games while also missing another due to injury.