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Stealth likely lose checker Harnett for NLL season to knee injury – The Province

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Vancouver Stealth Jon Harnett, centre, chases after Colorado Mammoth Callum Crawford, left, while dogged by the Mammoth’s Jeremy Noble in a regular-season NLL game at the Langley Events Centre on April 22. Harnett could be sidelined by an injury suffered during training camp. Gerry Kahrmann / PNG

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. The Stealth medical staff are currently deciding how to proceed.

Vancouver opens the regular season on 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-coordinator duties.

Harnett, 29, had been picked up by the Stealth last April after he was released by the Calgary Roughnecks. He’s a scrappy, hard-nosed 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 were. 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 three-position 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 tranny 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.

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