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Tale of Two Halves & Homesickness

03/10/2009, 5:40pm PDT
By Zack Snead

The Stealth are returning to San Jose for a three week home-stand to start the second half of the season. Something the team should be celebrating.

At 0-5 on the road this season, the Stealth find themselves struggling in unfriendly territory. For the returning players, the winless streak on the road puts the Stealth atop an unfamiliar category, most road losses. Last season the Stealth were the road dogs of the West, actually the league. San Jose led the NLL in road wins with a record of 5-3 in 2008.

This season, there truly is no place like home. HP Pavilion has been a much friendlier place for the Stealth in 2009. With a 3-1 record at home this season, the Stealth are tied with the Lumberjax and Knighthawks for home wins in a row. The opening night loss against Calgary seems all but forgotten. Last year, the Stealth started out the season 1-2 at home.

San Jose starts the second half of the season tied for last place in the West. With a 3-6 record in the first half, the Stealth are looking to gain ground on the Portland Lumberjax (5-3), Colorado Mammoth (4-4), and Edmonton Rush (3-6) to start the second half. And with six of the remaining seven games against division rivals, the Stealth know a 2009 playoff spot is achievable.

The remaining seven games each pose unique challenges and possible good tidings. If the first half is any indicator of the second, here is how it looks from the Stealth’s perspective.

Saturday, March 14 vs. Colorado Mammoth (4-4):

The Mammoth are a middle of the road team, quite literally. With a 2-2 home record and a 2-2 road record, there is little to read into. The Stealth defeated the Mammoth on February 21 in San Jose and the upcoming Mammoth games could have future implications for a playoff spot later in the season. If San Jose and Colorado end up with a matching record, the advancing team will be based on the three times the squads face off against each other.

Saturday, March 21 vs. Edmonton Rush (3-6):

The Stealth and Rush are tied for last place in the Western division. With a 1-4 road record, the Rush are the NLL’s second worst traveling team. The Stealth easily defeated the Rush at the HP Pavilion on January 31 by a ten-point margin.

Saturday, March 28 vs. Portland Lumberjax (5-3):

If there was ever a thorn in the Stealth’s side, it would be the Portland Lumberjax. The Lumberjax bested the Stealth twice in 2008, knocked the Stealth out of the 2008 playoffs and have defeated the Stealth in Portland already this season. If there is any consolation for the Stealth, last year’s back-to-back contest against the Lumberjax was split.

Sunday, March 29 at Portland Lumberjax (5-3):

The Stealth are a team that works best on rest. Statistically, the quick turn around has not benefitted the Stealth. San Jose has lost the second game of every back-to-back competition in the past two years. This will be the first time the Stealth’s road game will be tested in the second half.

Friday, April 3 vs. Minnesota Swarm (4-5):

The Minnesota Swarm are currently in fourth place in the West, the spot San Jose hopes to surpass come playoffs. Despite owning a losing record in the first half, the Swarm are one of five teams that has a winning record on the road (3-2). This is also the last regular season home game for the Stealth. San Jose finished strongly at home last year, with a 3-2 record following the All-Star break.

Saturday, April 11 at Colorado Mammoth (4-4):

The Colorado Mammoth struggled at home early in the season, losing their first two, but bounced back. San Jose currently leads the all-time series between the two clubs 5-4.

Saturday, April 18 at Toronto Rock (2-7):

The Toronto Rock are currently the worst team in the NLL, and the only Eastern division team the Stealth face in the second half. The Rock have a 1-4 record at home, giving the Stealth hope to they can end the season on a high note. However the Eastern division has proved tough for the Stealth, going 1-2 this season and losing both times they flew East.

A Tale of Two Halves:

2008 First Half:

5-3 Overall, 1-2 at Home, 4-1 Away

2008 Second Half:

4-4 Overall, 3-1 at Home, 1-2 Away

*The Stealth advanced to the playoffs with a 9-7 record and were the number one seed in the West.

2009 First Half:

3-6 Overall, 3-1 at Home, 0-5 Away

The San Jose Stealth open up the 2nd half of the NLL season when they take on the Colorado Mammoth on Saturday, March 14 at 12:30pm at HP Pavilion. Family Four Packs on sale now. Get Four tickets, Four Hot Dogs and Four Sodas for only $80. The Family Four Pack is available at all Ticketmaster Outlets, HP Pavilion Box office or by calling 877-My-SJ-TIX.

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