AIL­ING VET­ERAN HOLDS STEALTH’S PLANS IN CHECK

Stay-at-home de­fender Harnett could be lost for the NLL sea­son

Vancouver Sun - - SPORTS - STEVE EWEN

The stay-at-home de­fend­ers aren’t stay­ing in the Van­cou­ver Stealth lineup.

Team gen­eral man­ager Doug Locker ad­mits check­ing spe­cial­ist Jon Harnett could be lost to the Stealth for the en­tire Na­tional Lacrosse League cam­paign af­ter suf­fer­ing a knee in­jury dur­ing their train­ing camp at the Lan­g­ley Events Cen­tre com­plex. The Stealth med­i­cal staff is cur­rently de­cid­ing how to pro­ceed.

Van­cou­ver opens the reg­u­lar sea­son Dec. 8, when the Colorado Mam­moth visit the Lan­g­ley Events Cen­tre.

The Stealth al­ready lost vet­eran de­fender Cur­tis Hodg­son, 36, to re­tire­ment in the off-sea­son, while fel­low rear­guard John Lintz, 31, opted to take the cam­paign off due to groin-in­jury con­cerns. Both are work­ing as as­sis­tant coaches with the Stealth, with Lintz han­dling the de­fen­sive co-or­di­na­tor du­ties.

Harnett, 29, had been picked up by the Stealth in April af­ter he was re­leased by the Cal­gary Rough­necks. He’s a scrappy, hard­nosed type, ev­i­denced by his 207 penalty min­utes in 140 ca­reer reg­u­lar-sea­son games in the league. Oddly enough, he joined the team in large part to make up for the loss of Lintz, who missed the fi­nal six games of the reg­u­lar sea­son with in­juries.

Harnett spe­cial­izes in shut­ting down op­pos­ing snipers, like Hodg­son and Lintz had done. Com­bined, Hodg­son, Lintz and Harnett have played 450 reg­u­lar-sea­son games in the NLL and have scored 47 goals be­tween them. Corey Small led Van­cou­ver in goals last sea­son with 46.

Box lacrosse has be­come a three­p­o­si­tion sport for non-goalies: for­wards, de­fend­ers and tran­si­tion.

Tran­si­tion is short­hand for play­ers who start in the de­fen­sive end, but have the green light to join the of­fence. Van­cou­ver head coach Jamie Bat­ley has preached team speed since join­ing the Stealth a sea­son and a half ago and Locker has said he’s not wor­ried about the goals against ris­ing if Bat­ley opts for even more tran­si­tion play­ers in the lineup be­cause “you’re not a (tran­si­tion) guy for Bat­ley un­less you’re a good checker.”

The Stealth’s camp ros­ter lists 33 play­ers, in­clud­ing four goalies. It also fea­tures six de­fend­ers be­sides Harnett and nine tran­si­tion spe­cial­ists.

Come the reg­u­lar sea­son, NLL teams have a 20-man ac­tive ros­ter and dress 19 for games. The 17 run­ners are of­ten split be­tween six for­wards and 11 de­fend­ers/tran­si­tion types.

The Stealth are slated to play an ex­hi­bi­tion game against the Rough­necks in Cal­gary on Satur­day.

Among the other in­jury con­cerns for the Stealth are side­lined righty for­wards Rhys Duch and Joel McCready. Locker wasn’t get­ting into specifics, but McCready hurt his knee dur­ing the New West­min­ster Sal­monbel­lies’ Mann Cup ap­pear­ance in Septem­ber and Duch had trouble with his Achilles over the sum­mer with the Vic­to­ria Sham­rocks. Locker said both will be prac­tis­ing this week­end and should be ready for the start of the reg­u­lar sea­son.

Duch was sec­ond on the team last year in goals (38), while McCready was fifth (19).

The Stealth fin­ished 9-9 last sea­son and made the play­offs for the first time since mov­ing to the LEC for the 2014 sea­son from Everett, Wash. They lost 13-12 to the Mam­moth at the LEC in the West Di­vi­sion semi­fi­nal.

GERRY KAHRMANN/FILES

The Stealth could be with­out Jon Harnett, cen­tre, for the sea­son af­ter he suf­fered a knee in­jury dur­ing train­ing camp.

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