The Washington Stealth and
Minnesota Swarm will face each other for the second straight week on February
13, this time at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. The last meeting resulted in a 12-9
victory for the Stealth at the Comcast Arena as they improved on the National
Lacrosse League’s best record.
The teams are at opposite ends of the West Division spectrum, with the Stealth in first place at 6-0 and Minnesota in last at 1-4. Despite their records, the teams were dead even after three quarters last weekend, and it took a three-goal, fourth quarter run from the Stealth to steal the victory. This week’s game is expected to be equally close.
“Any team can win on any night in this league,” said Stealth forward Jeff Zywicki. “It’s never easy and you have to come to play every game. ”
Zywicki was instrumental in the Stealth win last week, earning game MVP honors with eight points on four goals and four assists. Rhys Duch was also a big factor for the Stealth offense, tallying three goals and four assists. Peter Morgan earned the NLL’s Transition Player of the Week honors with two goals and three assists and Lewis Ratcliff added a game-high six assists.
“There are areas of our game that need to be improved,” said Stealth Head Coach Chris Hall. “But we need to maintain the areas that are playing well.”
One area that is playing well is at the face-off circle. The Stealth will look for another big game from face-off specialist Jamison Koesterer. Koesterer won 20-of-25 draws in the game and grabbed 11 loose balls. He leads the league with 110 face-off wins in 167 attempts.
Minnesota out shot the Stealth 67-62 last week, but timely goaltending from Matt Roik kept the Swarm offense at bay. Roik, who made 39 saves, teamed up with the Stealth penalty kill unit to allow just one goal during a third period man down situation that lasted seven minutes. The Stealth boasts the league’s top man-down unit, killing over 81% of all penalties.
At 1-4, the Swarm is looking for something to provide a spark and turn their season around. “There’s a good chance you see a goaltending change and some other changes,” said Swarm
Head Coach Mike Lines.
“We couldn’t score the ball,” added Lines. “We were able to get plenty of good chances, but the ball is just not finding the net right now.”
Minnesota’s leading scorer, Callum Crawford, was one of the few Swarm players that found the back of the net, as he had a big day with three goals and two assists last week.
The game is set to begin at 5:35pm PST on Saturday. It can be seen live on the NLL Network at NLL.com.