In 2015, the Vancouver Stealth finished sixth in league scoring with a respectable 208 goals, which was about the league average. However, the offensive group returning this season would collectively agree that they would like to see more consistency game to game. The addition of Garrett Billings and having Logan Schuss and Corey Small on the squad from the start of training camp, will definitely help that cause. The 2016 forward unit consists of four righties in Billings, Rhys Duch, Joel McCready, and Keegan Bal (practice roster). On the left side there is another four in rookie Jordan Durston, Cliff Smith, Schuss, and Small. Duch has been a staple on the offensive side of the ball for the Stealth since 2009, and is coming off a career year in assists (62) and points (103).
“I believe we are going to be very dangerous. Last year there were times we struggled putting the ball in the net for whatever reason, but in other games we would score 20. As for this year, we have to find that consistency and I think we will with the talent we have up front,” said Duch, who is the all-time leader in goals, assists, and points in Stealth franchise history.
Stealth Head Coach Dan Perreault enters his sixth year in the organization and second as Head Coach. On paper, this year’s offense could be the best group he has had to start a year, but finding the right chemistry between them is first and foremost.
“You have to find that balance and mix on offense if we want to succeed. You can have 5-7 really great players, but it won’t work if you don’t share the ball and play as a unit. We have some really dangerous guys that can score, but it’s just as important to have guys that do the dirty work like a Cliff Smith, Joel McCready, and Jordan Durston.”
The likes of Billings, Duch, McCready, Schuss, and Small have the components to be a formidable five-man unit on offense. Between them all, they bring a combined total of 655 career goals and four Champions Cup rings.
“We have a lot of guys that can score, that’s for sure. Everyone will be a threat coming out of the offensive end this year by sticking to our game plan and moving the ball around well. We have a number of guys that can go off on any given night, which will make us a tough team to defend against,” said two-time champion Joel McCready.
The power play will be an area that the team will look for improvement in. Last season, the Stealth finished sixth in power play percentage at 44.12%. Adding a floor general like Billings and his 58 career power play goals to the line-up, should provide a boost to the percentage.
“We want to be over 50 percent, that is the goal this year. Consistency is the main thing for us when we go on the man advantage. Last year, we had some really nice games, but other nights we just couldn’t get it done. Anytime you can add a guy of Garrett’s caliber to the roster it definitely helps. He is really smooth and is a quarterback out there and just does so many good things with the ball. The guys are excited to play with him,” continued Perreault.
Former #1 overall pick Logan Schuss will look to be a key contributor on a nightly basis for the Stealth. With training camp and the exhibition schedule in the books, the Ladner native is excited to show the fans their new look offense.
“Our coaching staff has done a great job in getting us prepared for Saturday. With our team having a lot of local guys its easier to build chemistry as we are very comfortable with each other already. It’s just a matter of putting it all together out on the floor and being on the same page,” said Schuss.
The Stealth kick off their 2016 NLL Season this Saturday at the Langley Events Centre when they host the New England Black Wolves. Game time is 7:00pm. Tickets are available at Ticketmaster or by visiting the Langley Events Centre ticket office.