By Aaron Lommers Herald Writer
EVERETT — The importance of this weekend is not lost on the Washington Stealth.
The Stealth face Colorado at 6 p.m. today in the first game of a home-and-home set with the National Lacrosse League’s top team. The Mammoth have jumped out to a 7-1 record, two games better than anyone else in the league. The Stealth, on the other hand, have stumbled to a league-worst 2-6 start.
The Mammoth and Stealth meet again at 4:45 p.m. Sunday at Comcast Arena.
Despite the Stealth’s slow start, the defending West Division champs have reason for hope. Washington played its most complete game of the season last Saturday, earning a 14-9 road victory over the Toronto Rock, the NLL’s defending champion. Stealth coach Chris Hall said he hopes the momentum from that win carries over into this weekend’s games.
“At two-and-six, four-and-six looks awfully good,” Hall said. “If we can sweep here, we could put ourselves back in it a little bit.”
Washington will be facing a Mammoth team that’s without one of its top players. Colorado announced Thursday that John Grant Jr., the NLL’s leading scorer, will miss both games with an upper-body injury. The Stealth looked like a team that had turned a corner last weekend and that, along with Grant missing the games, should bode well for the Stealth.
“Beating Colorado twice is achievable,” Hall said.
The Stealth aren’t clear of the injury bug themselves. All-Pro forward Rhys Duch will be a game-time decision today and goalkeeper Tyler Richards will miss today’s game, but may be available Sunday.
Hall said Duch will play only if he’s 100 percent.
“It’s a big weekend for us, but we don’t want to lose him for the rest of the season, so we have to be careful here,” Hall said.
The Stealth have a bye next weekend, which would give Duch an additional week to rest.
Even without Duch, the Stealth offense showed signs of life last week with the return of forward Jeff Zywicki. Hall said Zywicki’s presence gives Washington three top scoring threats, something he said is paramount to offensive success in this league.
Kevin Croswell will get his second consecutive start in goal for Washington tonight. Croswell was signed just two days before Washington faced Toronto. He stepped in and saved 41 shots and earned NLL Defensive Player of the Week honors.
“He was outstanding,” Hall said. “He gave us a real spark early in the game and he made some big saves.”
Aaron Lommers covers the Washington Stealth for The Herald. Read his live blogs at www.heraldnet.com/blog34, follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.