Forward Rhys Duch (center) flies to the goal in the Stealth's season-opening win over defending NLL champion Rochester (Photo: Richard Olson)
Stealth veteran forward Rhys Duch.
EVERETT, Wash. -- Leading the National Lacrosse League with 14 goals and ranking among the top five in two other scoring categories, veteran forward Rhys Duch is flying high with the West Division leading Washington Stealth.
With five of 16 regular-season games in the books, Duch is picking up where he left off with a Stealth squad that has landed in the NLL championship game in two of the last three years – winning it all in 2010.
Along with his 14 goals, the 5-11, 200 pound right hander from Victoria British, Columbia also ranks among the top in points with 27 and shots on goal with 44.
“I’m playing a similar role to other years we have a little more depth in our offense this year,” said the four-year NLL veteran Duch who is encouraged by the strong start of left-handers Cliff Smith and Dean Hill.
“Cliff Smith is playing really strong and Dean Hill came into camp in good shape,” Duch told host Jeff Aaron on Everett’s KRKO AM radio Thursday afternoon.
For Duch, it’s the changes in this year’s squad that has him excited - and confident about the remainder of the season.
“We made some changes to the team this year and it’s paying off,” he said.
In nine NLL statistical categories, Duch holds down one of four top spots owned by Stealth players and occupies three of the NLL leader board top-five positions.
His performance has led the Stealth to a 3-2 January with victories over defending NLL champion Rochester, which the Stealth face again on Saturday, along with Colorado and Edmonton for top position in the West.
Shooting with bull’s-eye accuracy, Duch put 77 percent of his shots on goal in January. An accuracy percentage that has delivered four hat tricks in four of the Stealth’s first five games.
“He’s a level headed player who I think has matured a ton this past year and he brings the quarter back to the offense,” said transition player and faceoff specialist Bob Snider. “You can feel when guys are playing him that they respect him quite a bit. ”
Along with netting three goals and five assists to join Lewis Ratcliff as top scorers with eight points in the Stealth’s recent road loss to Minnesota, Duch hit two critical scores against the Knighthawks on opening night.
Goals that put Washington in position for the win along with an assist on the go-ahead goal with 1:23 remaining.
“He’s not a selfish player,” said Snider. “He’s very selfless moving the ball and creating offense for the team and he’s taking on a big role wearing that letter for us.”
After a road game on Saturday against defending NLL champion Rochester Knighthawks, the Stealth return home to face West Division rival Colorado Mammoth at Comcast Arena on Saturday Feb. 9. Game time is 6:45 p.m. PT.
Tickets are still available at 877-MY-75-TIX or visit www.stealthlax.com Washington Stealth… It’s Like Hockey with Balls.
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