The Washington Stealth began a home-and-home series with the Colorado Mammoth with a 13-11 loss at the Pepsi Center in Denver tonight. The back-and-forth battle came down to the final minute of regulation, the Mammoth scoring twice late to win the first of two games between the teams this weekend.
Colorado jumped out to a 3-1 lead as the Stealth failed to get stops early in the first quarter. The Mammoth scored seven goals on ten shots in the opening frame. Lewis Ratcliff helped to keep the Stealth in the game with a pair of power play goals, but Colorado took a 7-5 lead after 15 minutes.
“We made a lot of mistakes in the early going,” said Stealth Head Coach Chris Hall. But we were able to get ourselves back in it with some better execution from our power play unit.”
The Stealth power play went 5-for-6 in the game, including three goals in the first quarter. Ratcliff scored three of his four goals in the game on the power play.
The Stealth defense settled down in the second quarter, allowing just two goals on 15 shots. Goaltender Kevin Croswell made 13 saves in the quarter.
The Stealth could only muster a pair of goals in the second, including a shorthanded goal by Jeff Moleski. Rhys Duch, who returned to the lineup after missing a pair of games due to injury, scored the other goal for Washington. In the closing seconds of the half, Stealth forward appeared to score a diving goal, but further review wiped out the goal and the score remained 9-7 in favor of the Mammoth at halftime.
“The offense was okay at time, but didn’t capitalize on all their opportunities,” added Hall. “Our power play was much better, but five-on-five we left some goals out there.”
Ratcliff got another power play goal to open the third quarter scoring, bringing the Stealth within a goal. The teams traded goals in the remainder of the third to make the score 10-9 going into the final 15 minutes.
The Mammoth scored a power play goal less than two minutes into the fourth to regain a two-goal lead.
“We took a number of undisciplined penalties that came back to bite us,” said Hall. “Untimely penalties and turnovers were the difference for us.”
Ratcliff scored a power play goal of his own just over three minutes into the fourth and the Stealth was within a goal once again. The next goal didn’t come for nearly ten minutes, as defenseman Mike Grimes evened things at eleven with a forced turnover that resulted in a breakaway tally.
With just a minute left in regulation, Colorado’s Sean Pollock scored to take a 12-11 lead. The Stealth pulled their goalie for the extra attacker, but a turnover gave the ball back to the Mammoth, which capitalized with an empty netter to take the 13-11 victory.
It was the first win for the Mammoth in the last nine games between the two teams, who face one another again tomorrow night at the Comcast Arena at Everett.
Ratcliff led the Stealth offense with four goals and two assists. Zywicki finished with a goal and three assists while Athan Iannucci was credited with four assists. Croswell made 29 saves in the loss. The Stealth falls to 2-7 on the season.
The Mammoth was led by rookie Adam Jones, who tallied a game-high seven points (3g, 4a). Pollock, Jamie Lincoln and Derek Hopcroft each scored two goals. Goaltender Chris Levis made 38 saves as the Mammoth improves its league-leading record to 8-1.
The Stealth and the Mammoth will be back in Everett tomorrow night for the second leg of the home-and-home series. “Mascot Madness” at the Comcast Arena is slated for 4:45pm PST.
Tickets for the game start at just $7 and are available by calling 877-MY-75-TIX or at www.stealthlax.com.