With the National Lacrosse League title on the line and two teams so evenly matched, the home-floor advantage could make all the difference when the Washington Stealth plays the Rochester Knighthawks on Saturday.
EVERETT — With the National Lacrosse League title on the line and two teams so evenly matched, the home-floor advantage could make all the difference when the Washington Stealth plays the Rochester Knighthawks on Saturday.
The question is whether the Stealth still has it. Coach Chris Hall believes Washington does.
With Comcast Arena booked for a religious conference, the Stealth opted to have the Champion’s Cup played at the Langley Events Centre, 91 miles north in British Columbia. The game begins at 4 p.m.
“Obviously Comcast Arena is our first choice because our fans are there and we’ve won a championship there,” Hall said. “Outside of playing there, Langley is our next-best choice. We held a camp there in the summer, and many of our players are from near there. Outside of our own rink, this is the next-best choice.”
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The home team has won the title in each of the past five years. The Stealth, which played a preseason game in Langley in 2011, has chartered a bus for cheerleaders and fans to make the trip.
“I’ve got to think that 90 percent of the people in the building will be rooting for the Stealth,” Hall said. “I’m sure it’s going to be standing-room only. It’s a first-class building, very similar to Comcast except there will be 5,500 there instead of 8,500.”
The two teams met twice in the regular season. Washington won 13-12 in its season opener in Everett, and Rochester won 7-6 in New York two weeks later.
There’s no reason to believe the Champion’s Cup won’t be just as close.
“We know each other very well,” Hall said. “Our goaltender (Tyler Richards) has to play well for us, and he’s done a great job in the playoffs with huge saves later in the game.”
Washington went 9-7 in the regular season and advanced to the title game with a 12-11 win over the Edmonton Rush.
Rochester finished the regular season with an 8-8 record and advanced to the title game with a 12-10 win over the Minnesota Swarm to win the Eastern Division title.