Vancovuer Stealth’s Andrew Suitor managed to put the ball into the back of the net past Saskatchewan Rush goaltender Adam Shute, but the goal was waved off because of a crease violation. The Rush won the game 20-10. Gary Ahuja Langley Times

Stealth search for answers after abysmal season

Langley pro lacrosse squad went from playoffs to two-win season

A season that began with so much promise, went out with a whimper.

The Vancouver Stealth concluded what can only be described as a disappointing 2018 National Lacrosse League campaign with an 11-10 loss to the Georgia Swarm in the team’s season finale over the weekend (April 28).

The Stealth finished six games back of a post-season berth.

“Maybe humility,” offered Stealth president and general manager Doug Locker, when asked what he learned over the past five months.

In 2017, the Stealth went 9-9 to finish second in the West Division and earn a home playoff date. Compare that to this season and a 2-16 record.

“It was obviously a super disappointing year,” Locker said, especially considering the team had largely the same roster as the previous year with vastly disappointing results.”

So what happened?

As of Wednesday morning, Locker said the team’s management and coaching staff had not yet delved into a close examination of the game tape, something he expected would begin soon.

What he could say is the team came out of the gate poorly and was unable to recover.

One problem they did not expect was for the team’s top three scoring threats to all have down years.

Logan Schuss had a great first half but struggled in the back half of the season while Corey Small and Rhys Duch had down years altogether.

The trio finished with a combined 73 goals and 204 points in 51 games and their cumulative shooting percentage was .119.

Compare that 2017 when all three had 35 or more goals, finishing with 119 goals and 281 points with a shooting percentage of .164, which translates into 27 less goals.

“Bad starts all at one time and those are tough to recover from. That puts a lot of pressure on your secondary scoring to generate goals when that happens,” Locker said.

Goaltending also had a down year as last year’s surprise Tye Belanger, could not replicate his 2017 breakout campaign nor could off-season addition Brodie MacDonald take advantage when given his opportunity.

That led to Eric Penney earning promotion from the practice roster to earn the starting spot in the fifth game.

But the Stealth were still dead-last in goals against, allowing 277, and in goal differential at -91 over the 18 games, allowing nearly two full goals per game (1.9) ahead of the second-worst team. The team’s goaltending also had a .733 save percentage.

And when one area struggles, it tends to have a trickle down effect.

‘Things happened and we just weren’t able to work our way out of it and it affected other parts of our game,” Locker said.

“When you are not scoring goals, you are not able to stop runs, your defence starts playing a little differently because the goaltenders are seeing so many shots. It just cascades.”

But despite all the struggles, Locker doesn’t think the team is as bad as their record may indicate.

“I just don’t believe that the group that we had that was second in the west the year before and was not much different this year, all of a sudden turned into a bad lacrosse team,” he said. “I just don’t believe that.”

There were positives on the season.

Tony Malcom had a solid first season in Langley, scoring a career high 23 goals and 47 points and Brandon Clelland tripled his career goal output, going from three goals in 16 games to nine in 18 games. He also had a career-best 20 points.

And Locker also mentioned Penney and his .751 save percentage.

“For the most part, he gave us a really good opportunity to win a lot of those games down the stretch,” Locker said.

And the GM was impressed with the closeness of the team and how they didn’t fracture as the season unravelled around them.

“The one aspect that was very telling for us was this was a team that honestly just didn’t quit,” he said.

“The strength and character in the room and how they battled every night … I think reinforces to me that we have the right type of guys.”

The work for Locker and the management team is to evaluate what they do moving forward.

One of the first orders of business is to determine which 10 players the team will protect — and they can only hold on to a maximum of five forwards and one goaltender — ahead of the league’s expansion draft as the league readies for San Diego and Philadelphia to join in time for 2019. That list is due July 1 with the expansion draft a few weeks later.

Locker said he learned some things from watching the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights last summer.

“There can be a lot of creative moments that can happen that can not only improve the expansion teams but also improve the existing teams,” he said.

After that, the team will prepare for the NLL draft in September, although the Stealth do not have either a first or second round pick.



sports@langleytimes.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

Vancouver Stealth’s Rhys Duch scored three times but his team still fell 20-10 in NLL action at the Langley Events Centre on Friday night. Gary Ahuja Langley Times

Just Posted

Langley rollover crash slows traffic on 200 Street in Willoughby

Crews called to Monday afternoon collision involving two cars

Township mayor Jack Froese talks short- and long-term goals for third term

Tree bylaw, pot sales among topics that will need attention in coming months

Used election signs could serve as emergency shelters, candidate says

Langley council hopeful wants to build one-person foul weather shelters for homeless

Four-vehicle collision shuts down section of Highway 10 in Cloverdale

One driver transported to hospital with what looked to be non-life threatening injuries

Langley player to compete in first NCAA basketball tournament in Canada

Former Brookswood star Louise Forsyth to play in Vancouver Showcase

B.C. sailor surprised by humpback whale playing under her boat

Jodi Klahm-Kozicki said the experience was ‘magical’ near Denman Island

Ovechkin has 4 points as Caps rough up Canucks 5-2

WATCH: Defending champs pick up impressive win in Vancouver

Vancouver mayoral hopefuly admits defeat, congratulates winner Kennedy Stewart

Ken Sim of the Non-Partisan Association apologized for the time it took to acknowledge Stewart won

Mental fitness questioned of man charged in Chilliwack River Valley shooting

Peter Kampos told his lawyer ‘his dreams are being stolen and turned into drugs’ at Surrey Pre-trial

Fraser Valley mom stuck in Africa over adoption delay

Kim and Clark Moran have been waiting four weeks to bring son home

B.C. government moves to tighten resource industry regulations

New superintendent will oversee engineers, biologists, foresters

Election watchdog seeks digitally savvy specialists to zero in on threats

Move follows troublesome evidence of online Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election

Most Read