The Washington Stealth has a wealth of talent on its roster, as evidenced by back-to-back appearances in the National Lacrosse League Championship Game, which in 2010 resulted in the first league title in the organization’s history. One of the brightest young stars on that roster is fourth-year forward Rhys Duch, who the Stealth re-signed today, pending league approval.
In just three professional lacrosse seasons, Duch, 25, has built a stellar resume. The Victoria, British Columbia native was originally drafted by the Stealth with the third overall selection in the 2008 NLL Entry Draft and hit the ground running. He was named the 2009 NLL Rookie of the Year and a member of the NLL All-Rookie Team after setting the league’s rookie scoring record with 89 points (35g, 54a) in 16 regular season games. The following season, Duch tallied 86 points (33g, 53a) en route to second team NLL All-Pro honors during the regular season.
However, it was during the 2010 postseason that Duch truly emerged as one of the league’s most potent offensive threats. The right-handed playmaker led the Stealth to the NLL title with 25 points (11g, 14a) in three playoff games, leading all playoff performers and setting a Stealth postseason record. It was clear then to Stealth Head Coach Chris Hall that he had a superstar on his roster.
“Rhys was tremendous for us during our championship season, and has continued to prove that he’s a premiere player in this league,” said Hall. “The scary part is, he’s still growing as a player and has the potential to finish his career as one of the best to ever play the game. He’s a guy that we can turn to when we need a big goal and has lived up to the nickname ‘Clutch Dutch’.”
The “Clutch Duch” moniker came to fruition last season, when Duch scored the game-winning goal in five of the Stealth’s eight wins during the regular season. He finished the regular season with his second straight NLL All-Pro nod after posting a career-high 90 points (42g, 48a) in 16 games. He continued his postseason prowess averaging five points per game as the Stealth made its second straight trip to the NLL Championship Game.
Despite all the accolades already achieved during his short tenure in the NLL, Duch isn’t resting on his laurels; he’s preparing to do what’s needed for his team to return to the top.
“Winning the championship (in 2010) was one of the best feelings of my life,” said Duch, who also won a gold medal with Team Canada at the 2011 World Indoor Lacrosse Championships over the summer. “Losing by a goal (in the NLL Championship Game) last season was one of the worst. The individual awards are great, but the only thing I’m focused on helping the Stealth regain the Champion’s Cup.”
Duch and the Stealth begin the quest for their second NLL title in three years in Langley, British Columbia this weekend for training camp as they prepare for the 2012 season, which starts in January. The opening weekend of training camp features an exhibition game against the Toronto Rock tonight at 7pm PST at the Langley Events Centre, which can be seen live on the Langley Events Centre website. The Stealth and Rock have played in each of the last two NLL Championship Games, with each team winning once.
The 2012 regular season begins on January 14 at the Comcast Arena at Everett, where the Stealth will face the Calgary Roughnecks in a rematch of last season’s NLL Western Division Final. Tickets are on sale now and available by calling 877-MY-75-TIX or at www.stealthlax.com.