February 6, 2010

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Stealth Fry Swarm; Zywicki with 8-Spot

by Brett Bowker | NLL.com

The Washington Stealth (6-0) held on to beat the Minnesota Swarm (1-4) to remain undefeated in league play. Forward Jeff Zywicki, who was named Game MVP, led the team with eight points on four goals and four assists; he was supported by Rhys Duch who tallied a hat trick and four assists. Minnesota was led by forward Callum Crawford with three goals and two assists.

Washington came out firing and scored two quick goals from forwards Jeff Zywicki and Luke Wiles putting the Stealth up 2-0 early in the first. Minnesota had trouble keeping up with the Stealth tempo, as the Swarm offense rarely held the ball for much of the first quarter.

"In the previous games we were playing against fast, quick teams and Minnesota was more of the bigger stronger type, they play less pressure on defense," said Stealth forward Rhys Duch.

In a spectacular display of strength and agility, Washington transition specialist Paul Rabil picked up a loose ball face and was immediately tripled teamed by Minnesota defenders. He powered and swim dodged his way through to clear the ball, drawing cheers from the crowd.

In what would have been a top play, with six seconds left in the first quarter Stealth transition specialist Jason Bloom picks up a loose ball on the face off and sneaks it past the Swarm goalkeeper Nick Patterson right as the buzzer rang. However, it was called off by the officials.

This was the story for the Stealth during the first half; the Stealth offense took numerous wide shots on the cage. The league's highest scoring offense appeared to be out of sync during the first half.

Minnesota found some momentum in the second quarter, on a goal from forward Callum Crawford who tied the game at 4-4 with five minutes remaining in the half. Crawford racked up a hat trick before the end of the half. The halftime score was 6-5 with the Stealth ahead by one.

"Its tough to play a sixty minute game when you're down to fourteen on the bench, you got to regroup and hope it works, which it did for us in this case," said Stealth forward Jeff Zywicki. The Stealth offense went on to out shoot the Swarm 50 to 38.

The action in the second half began before the opening face off. Washington defender Eric Martin and Minnesota defender Ryan Cousins started a brutal brawl at the restraining line before the whistle. It would be a harbinger for the half as intensity, cheap shots and physicality would define the rest of the game.

"They started to play desperate; anyone can beat anyone in this league, so we played desperate too," said Duch.

Washington transition specialist Paul Rabil was given holding, fighting and game misconduct penalties after a multiple player scrum. The Swarm got a seven minute power play as a result. The Stealth defense gave a strong performance allowing only one goal. The Stealth defense leads the league with penalty kills; it entered the game with only three goals allowed on 24 opportunities (.875).

"We had to battle through with only eight defenders and had to look to offensive guys to play some defense," said Washington Head Coach Chris Hall.

In the forth quarter the Stealth started a scoring spree getting two goals from forward Rhys Duch and defender Mike Grimes in what would turn out to be the biggest lead in the game. Minnesota was unable to gain any momentum on their offense, their pick and rolls were ineffective at breaking the short handed Washington defense.

Transition face off specialist Jamison Koesterer gave another amazing game performance winning 21 out of 26 face offs. Also, both goalies gave stellar performances in the cage. Swarm goalkeeper Nick Patterson made 38 saves, while Stealth goalkeeper Matt Roik made 29 saves.

"Minnesota will be fighting for their lives next week. Our depth is proving worthwhile, we got to rest, heal up and bounce back to play them again," concluded Hall.

The Washington Stealth travel to the Xcel Energy Center next week, to face the Minnesota Swarm again at 5:35 PM ET on Saturday February 13.


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