The San Jose Stealth are coming off a dramatic 11-10 win over the Edmonton Rush last weekend, but they now need to focus on what’s ahead of them: the Portland Lumberjax. The Stealth and the Lumberjax will play a pair of games this weekend, the first at the HP Pavilion on March 28 and the second the following day in Oregon.
To say the Stealth owe Portland some revenge is an understatement: the Lumberjax have won the last four meetings between the teams dating back to last season, including an 18-16 win in the 2008 West Division semifinals. In their first meeting this season, Portland won 16-13 at the Rose Garden Arena. The Stealth are currently sitting one game out of the fourth and final West Division playoff spot at 4-7, creating a post-season intensity for this weekend’s action.
The Stealth’s win over the Edmonton Rush last week snapped a three-game losing streak. Jeff Zywicki led the team with three goals and four assists. Colin Doyle scored the game-winning goal and added five helpers. Rookie Paul Rabil earned NLL Transition Player of the Week honors with a pair of goals, an assist on the game-winner and seven loose balls in the game. Matt Roik shut down the Rush offense in the second half, making 12 of his 38 saves in a scoreless fourth quarter. It was the type of team effort the Stealth will need to make the playoffs.
On the season, Doyle leads the NLL’s third-highest scoring team with 24 goals, 46 assists and 70 points. He is second in the NLL in assists and third in points. Rookie of the Year candidate Rhys Duch is seventh in the NLL with 58 points (19g, 39a) and Zywicki currently sits in eighth in the NLL with 56 points (24g, 32a). Roik is sixth among NLL goaltenders in goals against average (10.85) and save percentage (.777).
Portland is 5-4 on the year and currently sits second in the West. They are 2.5 games behind division-leading Calgary. In their last contest, the Lumberjax lost 14-4 to the Buffalo Bandits in a rematch of last season’s NLL Championship game. The loss snapped a four-game winning streak dating back to January 31.
Portland is led offensively by Cory Conway with 37 points (14g, 23a) and Ryan Powell with 34 points (11g, 23a). All-Star transition player Brodie Merrill is second in the NLL with 137 loose balls. The major reason Portland sits at second place in the West is the play of All-Star goaltender Matt Disher, who has emerged this season as one of the NLL’s elite. He is second in the NLL with a .805 save percentage and fourth with a 10.30 goals against average.
The weekend kicks off from the HP Pavilion on March 28 at 12:30pm. Tickets for the game are available by calling 877-MY-SJ-TIX or at www.sjstealth.com.