Tyler Richards has led the Stealth to the NLL Championship Game in each of the last two seasons.
The Washington Stealth has won two consecutive National Lacrosse League Western Division championships and hoisted the Champion’s Cup trophy for the first time in franchise history in 2010. One of the major pieces to the Stealth’s championship puzzle has been the play of goaltender Tyler Richards, and today the team announced the fourth-year netminder has agreed to a contract for the 2012 season, pending league approval.
Richards, 25, has already established himself as one of the premiere goaltenders in the NLL. Over the past three seasons, he’s posted an 11.25 goals against average and .782 save percentage in 1484 regular season minutes. In that span, Richards has split time ats the Stealth goaltender with Matt Roik, who was traded in the offseason, making Richards the top goaltender on the Stealth roster going into training camp for the 2012 season.
“I’m looking forward to having the pressure of being the number one guy for the first time in my career,” said Richards, a Vancouver, British Columbia native. “The coaching staff and entire Stealth organization have shown faith in me and I am ready to come to camp and prove them right.”
As good as Richards has been during the regular season, he’s made a name for himself as a big game goaltender in the NLL. He’s posted a 6-2 record in the playoffs, with a 10.13 goals against average and .807 save percentage and a victory in the 2010 NLL Championship Game in which he recorded 50 saves. Richards was particularly stellar for the Stealth during the 2011 postseason with a 7.71 goals against average and .854 save percentage.
“We felt that Tyler has really earned his spot as the number one goaltender for the Stealth,” said Stealth Head Coach Chris Hall. “He was absolutely fantastic for us during the last two playoff runs. He’s still incredibly young and has a long, great career ahead of him.”
Despite Richards’ impressive performance during last year’s postseason run, the way it ended – with the Stealth falling one goal short of repeating as NLL Champions – has fueled the young star’s fire to return to the top of the NLL pyramid.
“Of course it was disappointing (to lose in the 2011 NLL Championship Game),” added Richards. “It was a heartbreaking loss, but it’s also a reminder that championships are hard to come by. It has made me work even harder this offseason to make sure that we are in the best position to bring the championship back to Washington.”
Richards and the rest of the Stealth open training camp for the 2012 season this weekend in Langley, British Columbia. The opening weekend of training camp will also feature an exhibition game between the Stealth and Toronto Rock. The Stealth and Rock have been opponents in each of the last two NLL Championship Games, each winning once.
The Stealth’s 2012 regular season schedule is set to begin on January 14, when the Calgary Roughnecks visit the Comcast Arena for a rematch of the 2011 Western Division Final. Tickets for the 2012 season are on sale now by calling 877-MY-75-TIX or at www.stealthlax.com.