It may have took four games for it to happen, but fans and management of the Vancouver Stealth both had reasons to leave the Langley Events Centre happy campers on Saturday night.
The 21-year-old Powless shone when given operating duties of the offensive gameplan, looking dangerous all game as both a facilitator and a scoring threat in the Stealth’s 16-13 win over the Colorado Mammoth. The win snapped a three game losing streak for the Stealth while denying the Mammoth a fourth straight win. In a Western Division that is sure to be a scrappy affair throughout the year, it was a big win to maintain a semblance of pride.
On the other hand, it could be a launch point for the Stealth’s season as the offense looks ready to take off. It was the type of win that brings locker rooms together and really gives a sense of direction to a team that looked so lost without one for much of the first slate of regular season games.
With Lewis Ratcliff being a healthy scratch for the first time this season, the pace on the left hand side of the ball really seemed to speed up and there were more opportunities through free-flowing offense. The result was a six point night for Powless and a two-goal, eight point performance from newly acquired Corey Small. What the left side sacrifices in size, they made up in the contributions that gave the offense certainty and Rhys Duch and Tyler Digby room for operation on the right side.
Digby and Duch were wheeling and dealing as well, piling up a pair of seven point nights – Duch with two goals, five assists and Digby with one and six. The offense was pointed and focused and didn’t allow Colorado’s defense to dictate the game to them as was the case last weekend.
The design of the offense with Ratcliff sitting was to get optimal possessions for Powless and the lefties and work through that side. Between Powless, Small and Cliff Smith the Stealth got 25 shots, shooting at a 24-per-cent clip on those shots.
Defensively, the Stealth are still allowing too many shots, but got better goaltending from Tyler Richards. Richards made several key stops that he wasn’t making in games prior, and his confidence increased throughout the game. In turn, it gave the defense the confidence in the second half to make critical stops and lock down a close win.
Vancouver also won the loose ball battle for the first time this season, 59-49, an encouraging sign.
Powless was the first star on the night, a sign of things to come if Saturday was more than just an aberration.