By Kevin Berar
(ISN) – Vancouver, BC – The Vancouver Stealth (1-1) are back in front their home crowd this weekend when the Buffalo Bandits (1-1) come to the Langley Events Centre for a 7:00PM PST showdown.
The Stealth played their home opener in front of a roaring and emphatic crowd last Saturday at the LEC. The team started off exactly the way they wanted to, scoring the first three goals and led 4-1 after the first quarter. However, in the end, the Toronto Rock would come back and take a 20-11 decision against the Stealth.
“We had a good first quarter,” said Head Coach Dan Perreault. “There was a period in the fourth quarter where we picked it up but unfortunately we played twenty minutes of good lacrosse. That’s not going to win you much in this league. We need more of a consistent effort this week.”
“We wanted to come out with a better effort for a great crowd and our home opener but it’s a tough league and you have games like that,” said forward Lewis Ratcliff. “We’re going to be defined with how we bounce back. It’s not about one loss, it’s about how you recover and making sure one loss doesn’t lead to two or three.”
After holding the Calgary Roughnecks to 14 goals in week 1, the Stealth allowed Toronto to score 20, which is something they’ll be focusing on ahead of this weekend’s game against the Bandits.
“They’re a physical team,” said Perreault. “Their goals against are very good, they take care of their own net and they’re going to be well prepared. If we’re going to make the mistakes we made last week we’re going to be faced with some problems. We’re working on fixing that and we’ll be prepared.”
The Bandits will come into Saturday’s game well rested, having a bye week last weekend after playing back-to-back games in the opening week.
“It’s real nice to get the week off to heal some wounds and sore muscles,” said Bandits Assistant Coach Dan Teat. “Some of our guys aren’t really young anymore so they need that extra time. If you get the week off and a couple of good practices, you’re usually ready to go.”
Buffalo, after losing their season opener to New England, bounced back to win their home opener, defeating the Edmonton Rush, will be led once again by John Tavares, who’s in his 24th season in the league. The veteran is the NLL All-Time Leader in Games Played (297), Goals (804), Assists (915) and Points (1,719). The Bandits decided to rest the star against the Rush to give him some extra recovery time.
“It’s tough for a 46 year old to play in back-to-back games,” said Teat. “Things just don’t heal overnight. It’s not a secret that anybody wouldn’t know. The last two practices he’s looked fantastic and he’ll be ready.”
On paper, this matchup is shaping up to be offense versus defense as the Bandits have given up just 20 goals in two games, which ranks second in the NLL, while Vancouver ranks first on the power play, at 70 percent.
“There’s some pretty lethal shooters out there (in Vancouver) so we have to prepare ourselves and guide where those shots come from instead of having Ratcliff, Powless and Duch fire from where they want to,” added Teat. “Those guys are going to get their chances and when you give them power play time, you’re best defender is your goalie. (Anthony) Cosmo should be up to the challenge again this week.”
Saturday night’s game is Johnny Powless T-shirt Night brought to you by C&D Logistics. The first 500 kids 13-and under receive a free Johnny Powless T-shirt.
Doors will open at 5:30PM and the Pre-Game Party begins at the Fox Hole. Before every home game, fans can to listen to music, watch out of town games on the big screens, and enjoy great food and drinks including a special Prime Rib Dinner for just 17-dollars, available only at the Stealth Pre-Game Party in the LEC Banquet Hall.
STEALTH NOTES: In 16 games versus Buffalo, the Stealth are 6-10 (since 2000). Last season, Vancouver defeated the Bandits in their lone matchup, 12-8 on March 29 at the LEC. Last weekend Duch became the Franchise’s All-Time Leader in Points (531) surpassing Gary Rosyski.