San Jose Stealth Captain Colin Doyle spent eight seasons with the Toronto Rock before being traded to the Stealth prior to the 2007 season. Doyle led the Rock to five championships and three seasons after leaving Toronto, he returns this weekend for the first time wearing an opposing jersey. The Stealth travel to Toronto on April 18 for the final game of the regular season.
For the first time this season, the Stealth will play in a game that isn’t littered with playoff implications. With last weekend’s 11-10 overtime victory over the Colorado Mammoth, the Stealth locked up third place in the West Division and a date with the Portland Lumberjax in the first round of the playoffs. Toronto was eliminated from playoff contention last weekend after a 16-14 loss to Philadelphia. The drama that will unfold this weekend revolves around Doyle, his return to Toronto and his assault on the National Lacrosse League record books.
Doyle won championships as a member of the Rock in 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003 and 2005, and was the Champion’s Cup MVP three times. He was the NLL Regular Season MVP in 2005, when he led the league with 111 points.
On December 27, 2006, one of the biggest trades in NLL history sent Doyle from Toronto to San Jose in an eight-player deal. Neither team would be the same following the deal. The Doyle-less Rock lost in the first round of the 2007 playoffs and failed to make the postseason the last two years. San Jose, on the other hand, has reached the playoffs each in three straight seasons, including a trip to the West Division final in 2007.
Doyle returns to the Air Canada Centre with the chance to set a pair of NLL records. Last weekend he notched his 71st assist of the season, tying the NLL single-season record set by Josh Sanderson in 2005. Sanderson was Doyle’s teammate at Toronto that season. Doyle currently leads the NLL with 106 points and is just nine points away from tying the single-season points record set by John Tavares in 2001.
Doyle hasn’t done it alone this season. The Stealth head to Toronto with the number three scoring offense in the NLL. Rookie of the Year candidate Rhys Duch is enjoying a record-breaking season in his own right; he set a new rookie points record this season with 86. His point total this year ranks seventh in the league. Jeff Zywicki has recorded 72 points this season and Cam Sedgwick is enjoying his best NLL season with 60 points.
The Stealth are in the midst of a three-game winning streak, due in large part to the play of goaltender Tyler Richards. During the streak, Richards has held opponents to just over 8.5 goals per game. In nearly 250 minutes this season, he has posted a goals against average of 9.13, and a save percentage of .817.
As for the struggling Toronto Rock (5-10), they have lost their last four games. They have given up a league-high 13.8 goals per game in 2009. The offense however, is the third best in the East at nearly 12 goals per game. They are led by former Stealth forward Luke Wiles and Lewis Wiles with 63 points. Blaine Manning and Jason Crosbie have 56 and 50 points, respectively.
The game is scheduled to begin at 4:00pm PT at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario. All the action can be seen on the NLL Network at NLL.com.