Stealth goaltender Tyler Richards (Photo: Richard Olson)
EVERETT, Wash. -- Tyler Richards has always been a competitor, but this season the proven big-game performer and NLL champion from Coquitlam, British Columbia is showing that he is pound-for-pound one of the elite goaltenders in the NLL.
Just two years ago, Richards took on the starting role in the Stealth’s post-season championship run after sharing regular-season time with now back-up Matt Roik.
After a trade sent Roik to Toronto prior to the 2012 season, Richards became the undisputed starter and has never looked back.
Coming a long way since breaking into the NLL as the Stealth’s 47th pick in the 2007 NLL entry draft, Richards worked his way from the 2008 practice squad in San Jose, to the 23-man roster in ‘09 and an NLL Champions Cup performance the following year.
With Richards’ numbers speaking loudly, Stealth head coach Chris Hall doesn’t think twice about who he wants between the pipes in a big game.
“You couldn’t ask anymore from a goalie in this league,” Hall said. “We’re more than happy to have him on our side. He’s one of those guys you can ride on a championship run.”
League-wide, Richards ranks among the top five in every major NLL goaltending statistic.
Richards posts an NLL second-best .799 save percentage. He’s third in saves with 541 and ranks fifth in goals against average, allowing a miserly 10.75 per game.
With one game remaining in his fifth NLL campaign, Richards has turned in his best season to date and has joined some elite company in franchise history.
Earlier this season, the Stealth net-minder surpassed Anthony Cosmo (2005-08) to become the team’s second all-time saves leader with 1,943. Just a few games later he became the second goaltender in team history to surpass the 2,000-save mark. Only former Stealth keeper Rob Blasdell (2000-05) has more with 2,493.
His 541 saves this season are good enough to rank third in team history, averaging just over 41 per game.
With those numbers, the Stealth’s human back-stop is well within reach of the team’s second best single-season saves total, needing just 30 to tie and 31 to surpass Cosmo’s 2008 mark.
An impressive feat, considering he was sidelined with an upper-body injury for two games earlier in the season.
A big T-Rich performance Saturday night can help the Stealth host its first home playoff game since its 2010 NLL championship season and open the door to another run at the title.
Big stopper indeed.
Game time for Saturday's Stealth matchup with the Philadelphia Wings at Comcast Arena is 6:45 p.m. Washington Stealth... It's Like Hockey with Balls.
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