The Washington Stealth (5-0)
bring the National Lacrosse League’s best record back to the Comcast Arena on
February 5th when they face the Minnesota Swarm (1-3) at
8:00pm. It is the first meeting
between the teams this season, with the next coming the following weekend at
the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.
The Stealth returns home after playing their last two games on the road. Most recently, they beat West Division rival Colorado 12-11 last weekend. Jeff Zywicki earned the NLL’s Offensive Player of the Week honors with a nine-point performance against the Mammoth. Zywicki leads the Stealth, and the league, with 35 points (13g, 22a).
Washington boasts the league’s top-scoring offense, averaging 14.6 goals per game. Seven Stealth players have recorded at least ten points this season. Along with Zywicki, they are led by Lewis Ratcliff, who leads the league with 14 goals and is fourth with 29 points. 2009 Rookie of the Year Rhys Duch is eighth on the scoring charts with 25 points (8g, 17a).
Defensively, the Stealth is the beneficiary of one of the league’s top goaltending tandems in Tyler Richards and Matt Roik. While they rank 6th and 7th among NLL netminders, respectively, they have been big late in games and on the penalty kill. The Stealth penalty kill is tops in the league, allowing just three goals in 24 opportunities.
The Minnesota Swarm enter Friday’s West Division contest on a two-game skid. They lost in overtime to Colorado on January 22 and 11-7 to the Buffalo Bandits last week. This week, the Swarm look to jump start their offense, who rank 9th in the NLL with ten goals per game. Those numbers can be deceptive however, as the Swarm have plenty of firepower on the offensive end.
Sean Pollock has recorded 60 or more points in each of the last three seasons, and has 11 points in three games played this year. Five others Swarm players recorded at least 40 points last season. Callum Crawford is one of those players and currently leads the team with 19 points (6g, 13a). They also have the top pick in the 2009 NLL Entry Draft, Zack Greer, who left Bryant University as the NCAA’s All-Time leading scorer. Greer has ten points on the season in three games played.
The Swarm defense is giving up 12 goals per game (10th in the NLL). Nick Patterson has seen the bulk of the minutes in goal, playing 159 minutes with a 12.87 goals against average. Kevin Croswell has provided a spark between the pipes, seeing action in three games this season with a 9.86 goals against average.
The Stealth and the Swarm are scheduled to face off at the Comcast Arena at 8:00pm. The Stealth will honor the Washington Chapter of US Lacrosse Hall of Fame inductees at the game. Tickets start at just $13 and can be purchased by calling 877-MY-75-TIX or at www.stealthlax.com.