The Vancouver Stealth (3-10) and the Calgary Roughnecks (6-9) begin a home and home set and will play their third of four meetings on the season on Saturday night. The season series is knotted up at 1-1 with the home team winning both games thus far. On January 30 at Scotiabank Saddledome, Calgary came away with a 15-13 win in a game that came down to the final minutes of the fourth quarter. The Stealth returned the favour on February 20 at the Langley Events Centre where they overcame a seven-goal third quarter deficit and won 14-13 in overtime.
Vancouver enters 3.5 games behind Calgary in the West Division for the third and final playoff spot, but have two games in hand.
“Our fate is still in our own hands right now, despite the loss to Toronto last weekend. We have to beat the teams we are chasing and Calgary has that playoff spot that we want and these next two games against them is going to be a battle,” said Stealth Head Coach Jamie Batley.
The injury bug has taken a bite out of the Stealth roster in the past couple of weeks. In total, six players who took part in the week 11 game in Toronto on March 13 were out of the line-up last week. Garrett Billings and Logan Schuss are among those six and have missed the last three contests due to injury.
“It has hurt not having them in the line-up, but other guys have done a nice job of stepping up and filling their roles. Injuries are going to occur during the course of the season and that means guys who don’t play as much will get an opportunity to see the floor a little more,” said leading scorer Rhys Duch.
Two of those players making the most of their opportunity have been rookies Thomas Hoggarth and Keegan Bal. Hoggarth is scoring more than a goal per game with 4 in 3 games, while Bal has 8 assists in his last 3 games.
Rhys Duch will look to continue to fill the net, as he has registered at least seven points in three straight games. He is just four goals away from reaching the 40 goal plateau for the fourth time in his career and is one assist shy of 400. On the other side of the floor, the Stealth will need to keep Curtis Dickson at bay, as he has already set a new career high in goals with 51 and is second in league scoring with 89 points.
“Our offensive systems have continued to click over these last few games, but as a team, we have to do a better job of staying out of the box and have to win the loose ball battles. Our season is going to come down to these two head to head games against Calgary and hopefully we play better in those areas,” finished Duch.
Game time is set for 6:00pm PST from the Scotiabank Saddledome and can be seen live on Fox Sports GO. On radio, it will be available on TSN1410 Vancouver and will also be streamed online at www.tsn1040.ca with the pre-game show beginning at 5:45pm.