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Originally published Thursday, January 7, 2010 at 5:33 PM

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Washington Stealth opens National Lacrosse League season Saturday

Team moved from San Jose, Calif., and will play its indoor lacrosse games at Everett's Comcast Arena.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Washington Stealth

The Washington Stealth makes its National Lacrosse League debut Saturday at Comcast Arena in Everett. About the team and the league:

The league: The National Lacrosse League is an indoor league that consists of 11 teams.

The season: Teams play 16 games, from January to April, with the postseason in May.

Stealth opener: Saturday, vs. Colorado Mammoth, 7:30 p.m., Comcast Arena, Everett.

Tickets: $13 to $42, available at 1-877-MY-75-TIX or www.stealthlax.com.

Last season: Finished 7-9 as the San Jose Stealth.

All-time record: 45-51 in six regular seasons in San Jose, 2-4 in playoffs.

Front office, staff: Owner, Denise Watkins; president, David Takata; coach, Chris Hall (2nd year).

Players to watch: Transition player Paul Rabil was a four-time All-American at Johns Hopkins, member of the NLL all-rookie team last year. Forward Rhys Duch, a Victoria, B.C., native, was 2009 NLL rookie of the year after scoring 89 points (35 goals, 54 assists), a rookie record. Veteran forward Jeff Zywicki scored 78 points last season. Defender Kyle Sorenson got to 77 loose balls and logged 55 penalty minutes in 2008. Goaltender Matt Roik has started for four other NLL teams and is a former All-Star.

Little did Jason Bloom know that when he was traded from the Boston Blazers to the San Jose Stealth last year, he'd end up coming home.

After the 2009 season, the Stealth of the National Lacrosse League moved operations to Everett's Comcast Arena, bringing Bloom, his wife and baby boy back to the Northwest.

Bloom, 27, is a native of the Vancouver, B.C., suburbs. He works in commercial real estate in Bellevue, but spends his weekends playing professional indoor lacrosse almost entirely for pure love of the sport.

Until recently moving to Mercer Island, the newly named Stealth captain would fly from the family's former home in western Florida to Denver or Boston for a practice and a weekend game in those cities or wherever his former teams played. Such is the life of many NLL players in a league with an average salary of $18,000 to $20,000.

Bloom will have a short drive for home games now, but says his Stealth teammates — many from southwestern Canada who will be driving, taking a small plane or riding a water craft to get to Everett for games — have the "weekend warrior mentality." The Stealth's regular-season opener is at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Comcast Arena against the Colorado Mammoth.

"A lot of the guys aren't playing it for the money," Bloom said. "They're getting the chance to play in front of a crowd for four months."

The NLL season starts this weekend and runs into May. The NLL game is played indoors with the same playing-field dimensions as hockey and is a combination of hockey rules and strategy and basketball skill and fast-paced action.

The sport is bigger in Canada, where it's called "box lacrosse."

"It brings the finesse and skill of the NBA and matches it with the speed and aggression of the NHL," Stealth coach Chris Hall said.

The ball used in NLL is made of hard rubber and is a bit smaller than a baseball, and the object of the game is to shoot the ball into goals that are 4 feet tall and less than 5 feet wide. There are six players per side including goaltenders, and it's common to have 25 goals scored in a game.

Hall has quite a collection of accomplished players, guys in their 20s and 30s who are firefighters, students, electricians, cable installers, construction workers and office professionals during the workweek. "We get one two-hour practice a week, a one-hour shoot-around and one hour of scouting and game prep," Hall, a Victoria B.C., resident, said.

"To bring the pro game (to Everett) is truly a homecoming for us."

José Miguel Romero: 206-464-2409 or jromero@seattletimes.com

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