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The Fight for a Playoff Spot Begins Saturday at the HP

03/19/2009, 7:07pm PDT
By Washington Stealth
The San Jose Stealth take on the Edmonton Rush in a National Lacrosse League West Division clash on March 21.  It is the second meeting between the two teams this season, with the Stealth cruising to a 16-6 victory on January 31.  “Irish Heritage Night” kicks off at 7:30pm at the HP Pavilion.

This week marks a transition for the Stealth.  They recently announced a change in the coaching staff with offensive coordinator Chris Hall taking over the head coaching duties.  

The change at Head Coach comes at a pivotal time for the Stealth.  The NLL playoffs are still over a month away, but for the 3-7 San Jose squad, a sense of urgency has already arrived.  They currently sit two games behind the Minnesota Swarm for the fourth and final playoff spot in the West Division; tied with the Edmonton Rush team they face Saturday.  This weekend will have major implications in the West Division playoff race for both teams.

Last week, the Stealth suffered a 14-11 loss at the hands of the Colorado Mammoth.  It was the third consecutive game they have given up 14 or more goals (all losses).  To tighten things up on the defensive end of the floor, San Jose was very active at the NLL Trade Deadline March 17.  Shaydon Santos came out of retirement to join his former club, and in his 12th NLL season, will provide leadership out of the back door.  Andrew Biers was acquired in a trade with the Edmonton Rush and Steve Holmes was activated from the Physically Unable to Perform list.

Offensively, the Stealth hope to continue the productivity that has them ranked third in the NLL with 12.4 goals per game.  They are led by Colin Doyle who ranks third in the NLL with 64 points (23g, 41a).  Rookie of the Year candidate Rhys Duch has proved to be a viable scoring option behind Doyle, ranking ninth in the League with 53 points (19g, 34a).  Jeff Zywicki sits at 14th in the NLL with 49 points (21g, 28a).

The Edmonton Rush are also in need of a win to keep their playoff hopes alive.  The team is averaging a league-low 9.3 goals per game while conceding over 13 goals per game.  Dan Teat leads the Rush in scoring with 40 points (21g, 19a).  Andy Secore has recorded 35 points (12g, 23a) in ten games.

The Rush have lost four of their last five since visiting the HP Pavilion on January 31.  The lone win in that stretch was a 10-9 victory over the Colorado Mammoth February 22.  

The opening face-off for the game is scheduled for 7:30pm.  The first 2,500 fans through the door will receive a green Stealth Irish Night hat.  Tickets for the game are available by calling 877-MY-SJ-TIX or at www.sjstealth.com.

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