Some better fourth-quarter finish and the Vancouver Stealth season could have a whole different outlook.
The Stealth sit dead last in the nine-team National Lacrosse League with a 1-7 record heading into Saturday’s showdown with the first-overall Saskatchewan Rush (7-1) at the Langley Events Centre at 10 p.m. EST (7 p.m. PST).
But in five of the team’s last six games, Vancouver has been in position to earn the victory in the fourth quarter, however they have only been able to come away with the ‘W’ on one occasion, an 11-10 win over Buffalo last month.
The most recent example of this was last Saturday in Saskatoon.
The teams were tied at nine in the late stages of the third quarter before the Rush’s Curtis Knight struck for the eventual game-winner with one second to play in the period. He then scored the only goal of the fourth for a 11-9 Rush victory.
For the season, Vancouver has been outscored 27-14 over the final 15 minutes of their eight games and 21 of those goals have come in the five above-mentioned games.
Vancouver will have a new body on the floor after the team sent third-year transition player Thomas Hogarth to Buffalo in exchange for left-handed forward Pat Saunders.
Saunders is in his 10th season and this is his sixth NLL team.
In 74 games, Saunders has 128 goals and 240 points.
“Pat is a veteran who has played in the league for a long time and knows how to score,” said assistant general manager and head coach Jamie Batley. “He has great vision and we know when he is giving the opportunity, he will help our team score more goals.”
“My main goals this season (are) to set picks, score on the inside and do whatever it takes to make this team win,” Saunders said.
Saunders should be familiar with playing in the LEC, having spent a couple of seasons playing senior A with the Langley Thunder in the Western Lacrosse Association.
Prior to Saturday’s contest, former captain Curtis Hodgson will see his No. 6 Stealth jersey go up into the rafters at the LEC.
Hodgson retired this past off-season but remains with the only organization he ever played for, serving as the Stealth’s director of player development and their Stealth Academy.
And it was the combination of his contribution on the floor — he is the Stealth’s all-time leader in games played with 211 regular season games under his belt — and his off-floor work which made the decision a ’no-brainer.’
“Kind of the perfect example of the kind of guy you want to honour,” said Stealth president and general manager Doug Locker. “It goes way beyond just the numbers and really speaks to the guy.”