February 13, 2013

NLL Notebook: Stealth's Duch Leads All Scorers

by Neil Stevens | LaxMagazine.com

Washington's Rhys Duch has 18 goals in seven games and the Stealth are in second place in the NLL's West Division.
© Henry Valentine/Stealth

Rhys Duch of the Washington Stealth is good for at least two goals a game. To be exact, his average in 69 career NLL games is 2.3 a game. He's been a prolific scorer since being drafted third overall in 2008.

Duch, 26, currently leads all NLL shooters with 18 goals in seven games this season and his output has helped his team to a 4-3 record and second place in the West Division.

''Our offense has been a bit of rollercoaster to be honest,'' he said. ''We struggled at times but we communicate our way through problems. We are finding success when we talk to each other, make adjustments, and utilize everyone.''

Duch is quick to mention goaltender Tyler Richards when asked about the team's improvement this year.

''Having T-Rich playing the way he is helps put games in the win column,'' said Duch.

As well, ''We are playing in new systems this year on both the D and the O and as we continue to grow in them we are finding more and more success.''

Ratcliff nearing milestone

Lewis Ratcliff of the Stealth is within six goals of becoming the seventh player in pro indoor history to score 400 goals.

The all-time leaders: 1. John Tavares, Buffalo, 770; 2. Gary Gait, retired, 635; 3. John Grant Jr., Colorado, 536; 4. Colin Doyle, Toronto, 467; 5. Shawn Williams, Buffalo, 417; 6. Paul Gait, retired, 410.

Ratcliff shoots from the left side. Duch shoots from the right. No wonder defenses have such difficulty deciding which side to concentrate on.

''Lew is a constant threat,'' Duch said. '''Playing with guys like him opens the floor for other guys because the other team's D is consistently worrying about him.''

Hass took his time

Tyler Hass was drafted 30th overall by the Minnesota Swarm in 2006 and did not play his first NLL game until 2011. So, where was he all those years?

The six-foot-six Canadian got a basketball scholarship and attended the University of Victoria in British Columbia.

''I decided to stay home and get my education,'' Hass said.

He then aimed to become a basketball pro overseas but tore a thumb ligament.

''It took me a year before I could play any sport again,'' he said.

He was out of organized lacrosse for five years before joining the amateur Victoria Shamrocks a couple of years ago. He fit right in.

''I had played lacrosse since I was three years old so it was like getting back on the bike,'' he said. ''Apparently, I was running around with a lacrosse stick when I had a diaper on. That's what my mom and dad told me.''

He finally joined the Swarm and now he's in his third year. He scored eight goals in both 2011 and 2012 and he has four in 2013 so far. Three of them, including an OT winner, came in a 13-12 home win over Toronto last Friday.

He doesn't take a lot of shots on goal because of his transition role but he makes the most of the ones he gets.

''My shooting percentage is good,'' he said. ''I'm confident enough on a breakaway that I feel that I am going to score every time — two out of four minimum. I'm confident and patient.''

He hasn't been in the league long but at 27 he's one of the oldest players on his team.

''I'm the third or fourth oldest guy on the team so I feel as if I'm in a leadership role. I've only been there a couple of years so I understand what a lot of the younger guys are going through.''

Total domination

The Calgary Roughnecks improved their regular-season winning streak over Edmonton to 10 games with their 9-8 home win over the Rush last Saturday.

The Rochester Knighthawks enjoy a similar domination of Philadelphia as they improved their regular-season winning streak to 10-0 with their 20-10 road win over the Wings last Friday night.

Dickson does it again

Calgary forward Curtis Dickson loves playing Edmonton. He scored four goals including the winner last Saturday. In 10 regular-season games against the Rush in his three years as a pro, the 2011 NLL rookie of the year has scored 23 times — two four-goal games and five three-goal games included.

Dickson, 24, from Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, and an NCAA star at Delaware, was the third player selected in the 2010 entry draft: Rochester took forward Cody Jamieson, the now-defunct Boston team selected defenseman Kyle Rubisch, and Calgary grabbed Dickson. Dickson earned the nod as rookie of the year with 33 goals and he potted 31 last year. He already has 15 in only six games this year.

First shot goes in

Colorado rookies Colton Clark and Joey Cupido scored their first NLL goals last Saturday.

Clark's was a beaut, and he got it on his very first shot in his very first NLL game. The six-foot-three forward, from Nanaimo, British Columbia via Bellarmine University, got the ball in the middle of Washington's zone and swept a quick shot over his back that handcuffed Stealth goalie Tyler Richards 6:13 into the game.

Cupido scored with 2:42 remaining in his fourth NLL game. He's been a top-flight university football cornerback with the McMaster Marauders in his home city of Hamilton, Ontario, and is determined to be a solid NLL player.

Clark and Cupido would have preferred contributing to a win but it was not to be as Washington trounced the Mammoth 13-6.

Rookie gets crushed

Stealth defenseman Billy Hostrawser was woozy after his first NLL game early.

Hostrawser fell backwards during a fight with Ilija Gajic with 2:39 remaining and landed with the full weight of the veteran Mammoth forward on top of him. Hostrawser lay motionless at first and the refs called for medics. A stretcher was wheeled onto the floor but Hostrawser eventually got up and slowly walked off.

We checked with the Stealth to see how he's doing this week.

''Hostrawser suffered a mild concussion as a result of the incident but otherwise is fine,'' said Mike McQuaid, the team's vice-president, communications.

Hostrawser has always been a battler. In 61 Ontario Jr. A games over the last three years with the Orangeville Northmen, he scored four goals and amassed 223 minutes in penalties. He was taken 12th overall in the 2012 entry draft.

Bender checks in

In Buffalo, Bandits fans got their first look at Carter Bender, 23. The six-foot-four, 220-pound forward from Caledon, Ontario, played his first NLL game last Saturday night and wore No. 89 because he was born in 1989. He was selected 18th overall in the 2012 draft. He played NCAA ball at the University of Hartford.

Harnett finally scores

Calgary defenseman Greg Harnett, in his second season with the Roughnecks and playing in his 16th NLL game last Saturday, scored his first NLL goal.

Tavares in street clothes

All-time leading pro indoor scorer John Tavares has sat out the Buffalo Bandits' last two games with a strained calf muscle.

Vinc is No. 1

Rochester's Matt Vinc has been a big reason why the Knighthawks have rebounded so impressively from the slow start to their season. He now leads all NLL goalies with a .812 save percentage. He made 49 saves before coach Mike Hasen let backup Angus Goodleaf get in some work with 4:19 remaining in a 15-7 win in Buffalo last Saturday night.

Save percentages (minimum 200 minutes played): 1. Vinc, .812; 2. Tyler Richards, Washington, .806; 3. Nick Rose, Toronto, .802; 4. Mike Poulin, Calgary, .783; 5. Brandon Miller, Philadelphia, .770; 6. Aaron Bold, Edmonton, .746; 7. Matt Roik, Colorado, .738; 8. Anthony Cosmo, Buffalo, .713.

Crowd counts

Biggest crowd last weekend was in Buffalo where 14,833 watched the Bandits drop a 15-7 decision to Rochester.

Elsewhere: 10,002 watched in Calgary where the Roughnecks prevailed over Edmonton in a 9-8 thriller; 7,772 in St. Paul, Minn., where the Swarm emerged victorious over Toronto in OT, 13-12; 5,139 in Philadelphia for a rare weekday morning game in which Rochester thumped the Wings 20-10; and 3,683 in Everett, Wash., where the Stealth bounced Colorado 13-6.

Neil Stevens has covered pro and Canadian lacrosse since 1971. He and the late Tom Borrelli — a longtime Lacrosse Magazine contributor — are the only media members recognized by the NLL Hall of Fame.


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