The Washington Stealth was is Minnesota tonight, looking to capture the season series against the Swarm at the Xcel Energy Center. The Stealth came out with the first two goals of the game, but the Swarm answered with five straight goals and cruised to a 14-9 victory.
The Stealth (4-10) has continuously struggled at the start of games this season, but tonight scored twice in the first 25 seconds of the game to jump out to an early 2-0 lead. Face-off man Bob Snider scored off the opening draw, followed by a Lewis Ratcliff marker 20 seconds later.
From there, the Swarm took over. They scored five unanswered goals in the quarter, to take a 5-2 lead. The Swarm would lead by at least two goals the rest of the way.
“We got off to a great start, but defensively we gave up five straight even-strength goals,” said Stealth Head Coach Chris Hall. “Each goal was a result of poor execution on things we talked about in film sessions before the game.”
The Stealth cut the Minnesota lead to two goals early in the second quarter on a power play goal by Dean Hill. The Swarm answered once again, scoring a pair of goals to extend their lead to four. They led at halftime 8-5.
The scoring slowed dramatically in the third, the lone goal of the frame scored by Kevin Ross to give the Swarm a 9-5 advantage going into the final 15 minutes.
In the fourth quarter, the Stealth pulled within three after a pair of goals by Athan Iannucci. Iannucci finished with a hat trick and added two assists.
The Swarm went on a three-goal run to take a 13-7 lead and went on to a 14-9 victory to maintain its hold on third place in the West Division.
“Offensively, our shot selection was poor and we weren’t working together,” said Hall. “Our chemistry is out of whack out front and that’s something that we need to fix quickly should we expect to make the playoffs.”
Ratcliff finished with a team-high six points on two goals and four assists. Hill had a goal and four assists while Rhys Duch finished with a goal and three assists. Snider scored a goal and won 22 of the 27 face-offs he took. He finished with a game-high 22 loose balls, setting the Stealth’s single season loose balls record with 172 on the season. Goaltender Tyler Richards made 45 saves in the loss.
After a win by Edmonton earlier in the day, the Stealth sits a game and a half behind the Rush for the fourth and final playoff spot in the West. The Stealth trails the Buffalo Bandits, which lost to Edmonton tonight, by a game for a potential playoff berth due to the crossover playoff format.
“We need to spend every moment possible to prepare ourselves physically, mentally and emotionally for our last two games,” added Hall. “There’s still an opportunity for us to get into the playoffs and we have got to show that we have the desire to make it happen.”
The Stealth returns home for the final two games of the regular season. The team faces the Toronto Rock on April 20, followed by a showdown with the Buffalo Bandits on April 28.
Tickets for both games are on sale now and start at just $7. For more information, call 877-MY-75-TIX or visit www.stealthlax.com.