It was a fantastic start to their home debut, but a poor middle two periods did in the Vancouver Stealth.
Leading 4-1 just 10 minutes into Saturday night’s National Lacrosse League game at the Langley Events Centre, the Stealth were unable to build on their early advantage, falling 20-11 to the visiting Toronto Rock.
The Rock cut the lead to 4-2 by the end of the first quarter and that goal sparked a 14-2 Toronto run that stretched into the third quarter.
“(Toronto) started to outwork us and were rewarded for it,” said Stealth head coach Dan Perreault.
“We were back on our heels. They had possession a lot of the time and we gave them room on their shooters and they capitalized.”
“We came out with a lot of energy,” said Vancouver’s Ilija Gajic, who opened the scoring and finished with a goal and three assists.
“(But) we started fatiguing a bit in the second period. You could see guys getting tired and making foolish mistakes and as soon as we started doing that, a team like Toronto is going to beat you.”
The Rock improved to 2-0 on the season while Vancouver fell to 1-1.
Toronto was led by Josh Sanderson, who had four goals and 14 points and Rob Hellyer, who finished with six goals and 10 points.
The Rock led 10-6 at the half and 15-8 after three quarters.
“We watched them come out and run on us and our offence was flatfooted,” said Toronto coach John Lovell.
“Once we cleaned that up, it allowed our offence to do what they do.”
Sanderson echoed those thoughts.
“It was just one of those nights were everything was going right,” Sanderson said.
“I don’t think it was anything special.”
The Stealth were led by Rhys Duch, who finished with three goals and five points, in the process, becoming the franchise’s all-time points leader. Duch has now tallied 534 points for the Stealth. Gary Rosyski had previously held the mark with 530 points.
“It’s great to be the team’s all-time points leader, but I wish the end result was different,” Duch said.
Tyler Digby also had a big game for the home side, with two goals and five points.
The Rock outshot the Stealth 55-44 with Toronto’s Brandon Miller stopping 33 for the victory.
Tyler Richards and Eric Penney both played goal for Vancouver but Perreault said the goalies were not at fault for the loss.
“We certainly can’t pin this on our goaltenders,” he said.
“Our defence left their shooters a lot of space and they made a lot of nice shots.”
Perreault said that every game — win or lose – is a learning experience.
And the lesson from the Rock game was that the players were doing too much individually, rather than as a five-man unit.
Gajic said the team needs to use what they learned in this game.
“We have to follow our game plan,” he said. “The games are not going to come easy.
“It’s a good wake-up call and we have to be better.”
The Stealth are back in action on Saturday (Jan. 17) when they host the Buffalo Bandits (1-1) at the LEC. Game time is 7 p.m.
Gary Ahuja/Langley Times
Vancouver Stealth’s Rhys Duch (#10) had three goals and two assists in his team’s 20-11 loss to the Toronto Rock on Jan. 10 at the Langley Events Centre. Duch is now the Stealth’s all-time points leader.