Stealth open with loss

New England ruins Vancouver home opener at Langley Events Centre as 2016 National Lacrosse League season begins

A stagnant offence combined with some less than average goaltending resulted in a season-opening loss for the Vancouver Stealth.

The Stealth — looking for their first post-season berth since moving to Langley for the 2014 National Lacrosse League season — had an inconspicuous start to the 2016 season, dropping a 17-7 decision to the visiting New England Black Wolves.

The game was played Saturday night at the Langley Events Centre in front of 4,230 fans.

“Their shots dropped and ours didn’t, that was the difference,” said a dejected Garrett Billings after the game.

“Their goalie played amazing.”

Billings, a Langley native, was the team’s prized off-season acquisition, and he opened the scoring, giving Vancouver an early 1-0 lead.

The teams were tied at three after one period but New England scored six times in the second quarter and led 9-6 at the half. The Stealth cut the lead to 9-7 in the third quarter, but that would be the last time they beat goalie Evan Kirk, who finished with 47 saves.

“We seemed slow out there tonight, we weren’t moving our feet,” said Vancouver coach Dan Perreault. “A lot of our shots were flatfooted and were hitting defenders.

“We were having a hard time offensively (and) we weren’t moving our feet well.”

Another problem was a lack of movement on offence as the players seemed to be stationary.

Billings (one goal, four assists) and Rhys Duch (two goals, two assists) led the team offensively.

Joel McCready, Corey Small, Travis Cornwall and Tyler Garrison had a goal apiece.

The Black Wolves were led by a familiar face to Langley lacrosse fans as Pat Saunders — who plays in the summers in the Western Lacrosse Association at the LEC with the Thunder — set a new career high with nine points. He scored four goals and was one of five New England players with at least four points.

“We don’t have just one guy,” Saunders said. “We don’t care who is scoring; we just move the ball and play as team.”

Eric Penney allowed a dozen goals on 33 shots before giving way to Chris Levis in the second half. Levis allowed five goals on 22 shots.

Perreault said the goaltenders were left to fend on their own too many times in transition.

Things don’t get any easier for the Stealth as they hit the road on Friday night for game against the defending NLL champion Saskatoon Rush (1-0).

“We have to learn from this (loss), we have to have a short memory,” Perreault said.

“We have a short week (to prepare) and a tough opponent waiting for us.

“We are going to have to be a the top of our game.”

The Stealth’s next home game is Jan. 23 when the Colorado Mammoth (2-0) visit the LEC.

And Billings said the home crowd’s support during the loss was appreciated.

“That was the only thing that was positive (tonight),” he said.

“Hopefully they will come back and we can redeem ourselves.”

 

Surrey North Delta Leader

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