The Washington Stealth opened the 2012 schedule tonight against the Calgary Roughnecks at the Comcast Arena at Everett in a rematch of the 2011 Western Division Final. Calgary avenged the loss that ended their 2011 campaign with a hard-fought 13-10 victory on Saturday night to improve their record to 2-0 on the season, while the Stealth falls to 0-1.
The game was a back-and-forth battle from the start. The teams traded goals throughout the first quarter as the score was tied at three after fifteen minutes of action. Stealth All-Pro forward Rhys Duch tallied two goals in the opening frame.
Duch completed his first half hat trick in the opening minute of the second quarter to make it 4-3. Curtis Manning answered with the first of two goals on the night to knot the score once again, but Jeff Zywicki had the last word of the half with 1:45 left in the second quarter to give the Stealth a 5-4 lead at the break.
The third quarter saw the momentum shift in the Roughnecks favor. Within the first two minutes and twelve seconds of the second half, Calgary netted three goals to take a 7-5 lead. They wouldn’t trail again. Lewis Ratcliff scored the Stealth’s only goal of the third, and the Roughnecks took a 8-6 lead into the final stanza.
“Three straight goals by (Calgary) to start the half really turned the game around,” said Stealth assistant coach Art Webster, who was leading the team in this one as Head Coach Chris Hall continued treatment for throat cancer. “We fought hard to stay in the game, but we were chasing them the rest of the way and couldn’t get the go-ahead goal.”
The Stealth tied the game three times in the fourth quarter. Back-to-back goals by Paul Rabil and Cliff Smith tied the score at eight with just over nine minutes left in regulation. Mike Grimes evened things up at nine just two minutes later. Duch notched his fourth goal of the night at the 5:23 mark to tie things at ten.
But in a 23-second span, the Roughnecks closed the doors on the Stealth’s hopes of a comeback. With 4:30 left in the game, Calgary’s Curtis Dickson tallied his second goal of the game to regain a one-goal lead. On the ensuing possession, Scott Ranger scored his second goal with 4:07 left on the clock. Calgary would add an empty netter to give them the 13-10 victory and a 2-0 start to their season.
“It was clear that they had a game under their belt and were playing at full speed,” said Webster. “We didn’t take care of the ball and they really hurt us in transition. I expect us to be better in those areas moving forward, but this was one we would have liked to win.”
The Stealth will be in action again a week from tonight, when they travel east to take on the Philadelphia Wings at the Wells Fargo Center. The game is set to take place on Saturday, January 21 at 4pm PST. It can be seen on the NLL Network at NLL.com.