The World Indoor Lacrosse Championships are underway in Prague, Czech Republic, and after three days of action, a number of Stealth players are making their impact on the world stage.
Four players on the Stealth roster are playing for Canada, the two-time gold medalists and favorite for a third gold heading into the tournament. The Canadians are 2-0 as of Monday, with dominant victories over Slovakia (27-1) and Australia (26-2).
Stealth fans know how much forward Jeff Zywicki was missed throughout most of the NLL regular season. He was back for the playoffs and his ten points (5g, 5a) in the Western Division playoffs was a big reason the Stealth reached its second straight NLL Championship Game. It’s clear he’s healthy now, as he leads the Canadians with ten goals in two games and has added three assists. He scored seven goals in the win over Slovakia. You can hear some of Zywicki’s thoughts on the tournament via this link on ILIndoor.com.
On a loaded Canadian offense, forward Rhys Duch is also contributing in the group play stage of the tournament. He has three goals and four assists in two games. The Canadians have blown out both teams they have faced so far, but there’s a good chance they will need the “Clutch Duch” Stealth fans know and love in the medal rounds.
Defenseman Jeff Moleski scored three goals during the Stealth’s 16-game regular season, but he already has a pair of goals in the WILC. Moleski is as tough as they come in the sport, and there’s very little doubt members of the Slovakian and Australian teams have some bumps and bruises as souvenirs from their battles with Moleski in Prague.
Goaltender Tyler Richards is playing behind Anthony Cosmo and Matt Vinc for the Canadians, who have the deepest talent pool of any country at the position. Richards allowed just one goal in the first quarter of Canada’s 26-2 drubbing of Australia.
The host country had a tough go of it in the opening days of the tournament, losing 14-5 to the USA and 25-5 to the Iroquois Nationals. Transition player Chet Koneczny is one of only two players on the team with NLL experience. He’s tallied a goal and an assist in the Czech’s two losses.
Head Coach Chris Hall is likely pleased with his team’s performances through two games so far. England cruised past both Australia (20-8) and Slovakia (24-7), due in large part to the play of forward Tom Johnson, who is tied for the scoring lead in the tournament with 19 points (9g, 10a) in two games.
Goaltender Matt Roik is the starting goalie for England and has made 40 saves on 44 shots against. He’ll be put to the test in the final game of group play as England faces Canada on Tuesday.
USA completed its play in the group stage of the tournament with a 2-1 record. After easy victories over the Czech Republic (14-5) and Ireland (22-1), USA lost 11-10 to the Iroquois Nationals on Monday in easily the most competitive game of the tournament so far.
Transition players Kyle Hartzell and Paul Rabil are wearing the Red, White and Blue in Prague. Hartzell has played in two games so far and tallied a goal and an assist, while Rabil scored a goal in the USA’s loss to the Iroquois Nationals, the only game in which he’s played due to commitments with the MLL’s Boston Cannons. The duo undoubtedly played a factor in USA’s loose ball dominance thus far, as they have collected 50 more loose balls than their opponents in three games (individual loose ball totals unavailable).
The WILC wraps up the group stage on Tuesday with elimination play beginning on Thursday, May 26. For more information on the tournament, including pay-per-view online broadcasts, visit www.wilcprague2011.com.