The Washington Stealth has announced today the re-signing of eight players from last May’s National lacrosse League Championship roster for the 2011 season. Six members of the defense and two young forwards are locked in to appear in training camp, which is expected to start in November. Each contract is a one-year deal, with details of the contracts undisclosed by the team.
“We have made an organizational commitment to bring the corps of our Championship team back in 2011 and these first signings signal the start of this process,” said Stealth General Manager Doug Locker. “We are extremely pleased with the chemistry we have here and it is our hope to have the majority of the team back in Washington to defend our NLL Title in 2011.”
The Stealth Captain a year ago, Jason Bloom, is set to return to the floor next season. Bloom set a career-high with 111 loose balls in 2010. The fifth-year transition player will enter his second season with the Stealth after arriving in a trade with the Boston Blazers prior to last season. Bloom took on a primarily defensive role with the Stealth, but still managed eleven points on two goals and nine assists in 16 regular season games.
“Having our Captain Jason Bloom amongst our first group of signings was very important to our organization,” said Locker. “Jason is an exceptionally talented player who provides stability on and off the floor. He is a natural leader and we could not be happier to have him with us again this coming season”
The anchor of the Stealth defense during their remarkable Championship run will also return next year. Third-year goaltender Tyler Richards went 5-4 during the regular season, but caught fire in the playoffs, setting a career-high with 50 saves in the Stealth 15-11 win over the Toronto Rock in the Champion’s Cup Final.
“Tyler was simply lights out down the stretch and into last year’s playoffs, and his performance in the NLL Championship game was simply remarkable,” said Locker. “We are excited to have him back and are looking forward to having Tyler in a Stealth uniform for many years to come”
Playing in front of Richards, the Stealth re-signed defensemen Curtis Hodgson, Mike Grimes, Matt Beers and Chris O’Dougherty. Hodgson and Grimes have been two of the NLL’s top defenders throughout their careers, and once again were two of the more consistent on the Stealth defense last year. Hodgson, who is entering his seventh NLL season, played in 15 regular season games and each of the Stealth’s three playoff games, contributing a goal and an assist in the Championship game. Grimes is entering his fifth pro season and set a career-high with 93 loose balls in 2010.
“Curtis and Mike had arguably their best professional seasons and both provide a veteran presence on the floor at a young age,” added Locker. “They are both very dedicated to being the best day in and out and are role models for our team.”
The Stealth also bring back two bright stars on defense in All-Rookie Team honoree Matt Beers and Chris O’Dougherty. Beers made an immediate impact in his rookie season, playing in 15 regular season games and all three playoff games. The 20-year old collected 90 loose balls and added 10 points on two goals and eight assists. O’Dougherty quickly moved up the depth chart in 2010, appearing in two games after beginning the season on the practice squad. His big, athletic frame (6’1”, 205 lbs.) will be a valuable commodity for the Stealth as he gains more experience.
The Stealth also re-signed a pair of young guns on the offensive end of the floor in Kory Kowalyk and Joel Dalgarno. Kowalyk appeared in nine regular season games and one playoff game last season. He tallied four goals and two assists and collected 25 loose balls. He proved to be a valuable asset for the Stealth midway through last season when, with the defense decimated by injury, he stepped in to a defensive role and played extremely well. Dalgarno is another second-year forward with a bright future. The left-handed forward played in eight regular season games for the Stealth, tallying 16 points (5g, 11a).
“One of the strengths of the team was having a very talented group of rookies in 2010, and the best part of that going into this coming season is that those rookies now have a year of experience,” said Locker. “Matt (Beers), Chris (O’Dougherty), Joel (Dalgarno) and Kory (Kowalyk) are all going to be forces in the NLL in the coming years. Each of them gained valuable game experience this past year and that’s a huge benefit moving into 2011.”
The signings will continue for the Stealth as they continue to revamp their roster for their 2011 title defense. The NLL schedule is set to be release in September. Season tickets for the 2011 season are on sale now and can be purchased by visiting www.stealthlax.com or by calling 877-MY-75-TIX.