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Vancouver Stealth Ready For Second Half Of The Season

Gary Ahuja | NLL.com Staff Writer
Photo Credit Garrett James

All that is missing is the results.

Those are the thoughts of Vancouver Stealth general manager Doug Locker as his team gets set for the second half of their 18-game National Lacrosse League schedule. The Stealth sit at 3-6 at the midway point of the season, having lost six of their past seven games following a promising 2-0 start.

Included in that is a woeful 0-4 record at home at the Langley Events Centre.  “We have to get some wins at home. That is really the glaring issue for us,” Locker said. “It is immensely frustrating.”

Record aside, the general manager remains optimistic about his club’s outlook for the second half.  “Bottom line is, I feel great about the progress we are making. I think we have showed that we can compete with anybody, we have shown that over the (last) four weeks,” he said.  “But at the end of the day, we have to close out some wins at home. That is the single biggest frustration, being 3-2 on the road and 0-4 at home.”

What the team has lacked is an inability to finish games. In four of their losses, the team has been tied in the fourth quarter but has come away empty-handed.  The defense — which has been a problem spot the past few seasons — has shown improvement.  NLL teams are allowing an average of a dozen goals per game and while Vancouver is ranked seventh at 13 goals against per game, they have been or late, surrendered 10 goals in each of the past three games. The Stealth did give up a dozen last week, but two of those came with the goaltender on the bench for an extra attacker.

“We have really turned the corner at that end (of the floor). We are getting the goaltending we need, the transition is starting to come together,” Locker said.  “We just had a power outage (on offense) the other night and you wouldn’t have expected it.”  He was referring to his team scoring a season-low eight goals in a 12-8 loss to the Rochester Knighthawks.

The Stealth are fourth in the league with 11.8 goals per game but against Rochester, the offense was out of sync all night,.   Logan Schuss was held goal-less despite 11 shots on goal. He was averaging three goals per game.  Corey Small did continue his torrid pace, registering four of Vancouver’s eight goals, and he now leads the team with 25 goals. He is tied for the league-lead in goals and is tops in points with 61.

The right-side had Garrett Billings, Cory Conway and rookie James Rahe have combined to play just nine games this season and the lack of familiarity with one another showed.  It also didn’t help that they were playing without right-hander Rhys Duch, who averages nearly six points per game.  “Rhys is the cog on that side, so we were out of sync,” Locker said.  

And with the league’s trade deadline just over three weeks away (March 27), Locker made one thing clear: he likes the team he has and they will not be unloading players should Vancouver fall out of the playoff race.  “We are never ever, ever going to do a sell-off. If anything it will be to go for it rather than a sell-off.  We are not going to give up on the season until mathematically there is no hope,” he said.  “So until that day comes — and hopefully it doesn’t — we are always going to be trying to look at strengthening ourselves rather than weakening ourselves.”