Photo by John McCabe
After appearing in each of the last two National Lacrosse League championship games, the 0-3 Washington Stealth looks to get back on the winning track in 2012. The team hopes to find its first victory of the young season tonight at the First Niagara Center when it faces the Buffalo Bandits (2-2).
The Stealth has lost its first three games to open a season for the first time in team history. The most recent loss, a 16-5 drubbing at the hands of the Edmonton Rush, was the most lopsided defeat of the season. But despite the early struggles, the Stealth is ready to hit the floor in Buffalo for a chance to earn its first win.
“We know we have the talent in our locker room,” said Stealth forward Rhys Duch, who leads the Stealth with 12 points (5g, 7a) this season. “We aren’t hitting the panic button. We just need to go out and execute.”
Execution on offense has been part of the Stealth’s struggles so far this season. In each of the past two seasons the Stealth led the NLL in goals scored, netting nearly 13 goals per game over that span. In three games this season, the Stealth is averaging a league-low eight goals per game.
The Stealth is up against a Buffalo Bandits squad that is coming off a pair of losses last weekend. The Bandits lost 13-10 to the Philadelphia Wings on Friday, then dropped a tough one to the Minnesota Swarm the following night. The Bandits will undoubtedly be hungry to snap the two-game skid at home tonight.
“They (the Bandits) are going to be just as hungry as we are,” said Stealth Assistant Coach Art Webster, who is leading the team as Head Coach Chris Hall continues treatment for cancer. “They are a great team from top to bottom and it’s a tough place to play. We need to be focused for a full 60 minutes.”
The Bandits are led offensively by John Tavares, arguably the greatest NLL player of all time and still a formidable threat at age 41. Tavares has 23 points (10g, 13a) and a myriad of weapons around him, including former Stealth forward Luke Wiles. Wiles has 16 points (9g, 7a) in his first four games with Buffalo.
The game is scheduled to begin at 4:30pm PST at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo, N.Y. It can be seen live on the NLL Network at NLL.com.