A Look at the Stealth and the Playoffs

The San Jose Stealth are set to face the Portland Lumberjax in the West Division Semifinals this weekend.  The Stealth captured the #3 seed in the West with a 7-9 overall record.  2009 marks the third straight postseason appearance for the San Jose Stealth, and the fourth since the team moved to San Jose prior to the 2004 NLL season.  Here’s a little break down of how each Stealth postseason panned out.

2004: The Stealth’s first season in the Bay was a stellar campaign on the field, posting an 11-5 record.  The Stealth’s high-scoring offense (12.75 g/gm, 4th in NLL) was led by Josh Sanderson with 89 points (28g, 61a) during the regular season. He finished first in the NLL in assists and fifth in points.  Rob Blasdell was their leading netminder, finishing with a 12.79 goals against average and .722 save percentage in over 600 minutes played.  Matt Ogelsby led the team in loose balls with 120.  San Jose was the #2 seed that season and hosted the #3 Calgary Roughnecks, who were coached by current Stealth Head Coach Chris Hall.  Calgary came to the HP Pavilion and escaped with a 15-14 victory on their way to the 2004 NLL Title.  

2007: After missing the postseason with sub-.500 records in 2005 and 2006, the Stealth rebounded with a 9-7 overall record and a #4 seed in the West.  Luke Wiles finished with 82 points and Colin Doyle had 81 in his first season wearing the Black and Red.  Anthony Cosmo was in goal, posting a 10.22 goals against average and .792 save percentage in 810 minutes.  Eric Martin collected a team-high 132 loose balls in 16 games.  In the West Semifinals, the Stealth traveled to top-seeded Colorado.  Colorado had been dominant that season going 12-4, three games better than anyone in the West.  But in front of 16,000 fans at the Pepsi Center, Doyle put up ten points (1g, 9a) to lead the Stealth to a 15-14 victory and a trip to the Divisional Final.  In the West final, the Stealth ran into former goaltender Rob Blasdell, Dan Dawson and the expansion Arizona Sting.  The #3 seed Sting went on to a 9-7 victory thanks to 44 saves by Blasdell and five points (2g, 3a) from Dawson.  Arizona lost the Champions Cup 13-11 to Rochester.

2008: The Stealth finished the regular season 9-7.  They locked down the #1 seed in the West thanks to a break out year by Jeff Zywicki, who posted a single-season Stealth record 90 points (48g, 42a).  Doyle was stellar yet again with 88 points (27g, 61a).  The tandem finished as the highest scoring teammates in the NLL.  Cosmo finished with a 10.69 goals against average and .795 save percentage (2nd in NLL).  Martin ended his All-Star regular season with 151 loosies.  In the first round of the playoffs, the Stealth played host to the #4 seed Portland Lumberjax.  In a high-scoring affair at the HP Pavilion, Portland shocked the Stealth 18-16.  Dan Dawson, who Portland acquired in the Arizona dispersal draft prior to the season, put up 12 points (7g, 5a) to end the Stealth’s hopes of a Champion’s Cup.

2009:  In 2009, the Stealth began the season at 3-7 and their playoff hopes looked grim. But in their final six games, the Stealth went 4-2 and locked down the #3 seed in the West.  Doyle’s 111 points and 73 assists are the most in franchise history and rookie forward Rhys Duch set a new rookie scoring mark with 89 points.  For the first time since 2004, the Stealth recorded 200 goals in a season.  Tyler Richards has emerged as the team’s top goalie, sitting second in the NLL in both goals against average (10.08) and save percentage (.803).  Martin’s 100 loose balls in just twelve games led the squad.

San Jose travels to Portland on May 1 for a rematch of the 2008 Divisional Semifinal.  The Lumberjax won the season series 2-1, but the resurgent Stealth won the most recent meeting 13-8 on March 29 at the Rose Garden.  The game is scheduled to face off at 7:30pm PT and can be seen on the NLL Network at NLL.com.

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