EVERETT, Wash.— The Washington Stealth erased a year-and-a-half long drought against Calgary and regained a share of first place in the NLL West with a 16-14 win over the Roughnecks, Saturday night before 3,819 at Comcast Arena in Everett.
The win put the Stealth back into positive territory at 5-4 and tied with the Roughnecks for first in the West. It was the first win for Washington over Calgary since its May 7, 2011 Western Division final playoff victory.
NLL goals leader Rhys Duch led the way, matching a regular-season career high 10 points, as the Stealth jumped out to a six-goal lead late in third and then withstood an eight-goal Calgary fourth to hang on for the win.
“We did such a great job to build a lead,” Stealth Coach Chris Hall said. “We played solidly through the whole stretch and then had a little bit of melt down (in the fourth).”
With momentum running the Stealth’s way through three, Calgary opened scoring in the fourth on a Shawn Evans goal just 28 seconds into the quarter to make it 12-7.
But the scrappy play that has hallmarked the rivalry, yet alluded the two squads for the first three quarters of tonight’s game, finally emerged with Stealth goaltender Tyler Richards taking a five minute high sticking penalty at 11:31 of the final stanza.
“I let the emotions get the better of me for one second,” Richards said. “It almost cost us the game. Luckily our boys responded and we put together a few goals in the last five minutes.”
With Richards cooling his heals for an extended stay in the penalty box and Nick Patterson minding the net, Calgary went on to score three unanswered goals and six of the next seven to tie the game at 13-13 with 6:04 remaining and quiet the Comcast arena crowd.
For Patterson it was his first time in net since the Stealth’s Jan. 20 loss to Edmonton.
“It only takes less than a minute of losing focus and you find yourself in big trouble in this league. But we played great lacrosse right up until that point,” Hall said.
With both teams at full strength and just over five minutes remaining, Duch tallied his third of the night giving the Victoria native seven hat tricks this season.
His goal ignited a three-score Stealth run that put Washington up by three at 16-13 with 1:27 remaining to all but seal the victory.
“For us to be able to answer after that (Richards penalty) was great,” Hall said. “The fans were uplifting for us when T-Rich went back. Our big guns up front answered the bell and the defense dug in hard,” he said. “We felt like we weren’t going to give this game away.”
Calgary’s Curtis Dickson managed a final goal for the Roughnecks with just over a minute to go, but that would be all for the Alberta team.
In the first, Washington opened scoring on Athan Iannucci’s first of four goals and three assist on the night but quickly fell behind 2-1 on two power play to scores by Calgary’s Daryl Beltman and Dane Dobbie to close out the quarter.
“I feel like I’m capable of doing that more often than not,” Iannucci said. “I’m just happy that I was able to (be productive) tonight. Everyone helped out a lot. We moved around and played well with each other.”
In the second, Calgary scored first just 31 second into the period on a Shawn Evans goal to extend the Roughnecks’ lead to 3-1.
But an opportunistic Stealth squad took advantage of careless Calgary penalties to convert on three power plays along with three other goals to take a 7-5 lead into the half.
“We changed (the power play) tonight,” Hall said. “We had Bucktooth playing the point with Iannucci down in the crease just to change it up. I think it worked very well.”
Washington finished the night with three power play goals – all in the second.
Duch led the way for Washington with three goals and seven assists to run his season points totals to 51 on the season. Along with Iannucci, Ratcliff also tallied seven on a single goal and six assists.
For the Roughnecks, Jeff Shattler had three goals and three assists for six points. Dan Doby and Shawn Evans each had two goals and three assists for five points.
In the faceoff circle, Calgary’s Geoff Snider won the battle taking 25 of 33 draws, while the Stealth’s Bob Snider won just seven of 28 giving him 150 face-off wins on the season.
“I think that’s the mark of a good team when there was such a huge swing in such a short period of time,” Hall said.
“We hung in and battled back.”
Washington is back home next Sunday, March 3 for its final matinee of the 2013 season as the Stealth face the Minnesota Swarm. Game time at Comcast Arena is 2:45 p.m. PST.
1 2 3 4 F
Calgary 2 3 1 8 14
Washington 1 6 5 4 16
AROUND THE NLL
Games for Friday, Feb. 22
Games for Saturday, Feb. 23
Games for Sunday, Feb. 24
Edmonton at Minnesota
Colorado at Philadelphia
Lewis Ratcliff, with one goal on the night, is now just four short of his 400th career NLL goal.
Cliff Smith hit the century mark in career loose balls. He finished the night with two goals for 13 on the season and 31 points.
The U.S. National Anthem was performed by the Lake Stevens High School marching band, which occupied nearly a full section of seats at Comcast Arena.
Ike Ditzenberger, the Snohomish High School football player afflicted with Down Syndrome whose touchdown run two years ago made him a YouTube sensation, was invited into the Washington locker room by captain Kyle Sorensen to congratulate the Stealth following tonight’s win.