Stealth soar past Wings, lock in home playoff date next Saturday

EVERETT, Wash. – Scoring 11 of 12 goals through the middle of the game, the Washington Stealth secured a first-round home playoff game with a decisive 17-13 win over the Philadelphia Wings, Saturday before 4,352 at Comcast Arena in Everett.

The win gives the 9-7 Stealth their first winning season since its 2010 NLL championship year and combined with an Edmonton loss to Calgary earlier on Saturday, sets up a West Division Semifinal with the Rush next Saturday, April 27 at Comcast Arena. 

“We matched up well with them and we stuck to our game plan,” said Stealth forward Rhys Duch who became the NLL regular-season goals champion with four scores on the night including a shot just 40 seconds into the second quarter that ignited a six-goal Stealth run. 

“It’s huge going into the playoffs when you can trust yourself as well as your teammates to follow a plan that you put in place,” he said.

The run was among 11 of the next 12 for Washington, which jumped out to a 14-6 lead with 9:28 remaining in the third. 

“It’s great to be rewarded and recognized for your successes and obviously scoring goals is something that I take pride in so it’s a cool feeling to win that award.  But I score goals to help my team win,” said Duch, who finished the season with 45 goals; just two ahead of Colorado’s John Grant Jr. who had three goals in Colorado’s win over Minnesota.

“Game-in and game-out (Duch) has been a consistent performer every game,” said Stealth coach Chris Hall.  “Winning the goal scoring title is a testament to how good of a lacrosse player he is.”

The run, beginning with a Dean Hill score with 57 seconds remaining in the first and ending on a Bob Snider goal with 9:28 to go in the third, was interrupted only by a single from the Wings’ Drew Westervelt at 6:01 of the second to make it 9-6 Philadelphia.  The power play score was Westervelt’s 300th career point.

Philadelphia would capitalize on a five-minute major penalty assessed to the Stealth’s Justin Pychel, whistled for a slash with 6:24 to go in the third, to work its way back into the game.  

Scoring four straight goals – three on power plays resulting from the non–releasable infraction to Pychel, eventually narrowed the Washington lead to 14-10 with 13:29 to go.  The Wings finished the night 4-7 on power plays, while Washington was just 1-4.

Duch added his fourth scored of the night just 29 seconds later to make it 15-10, before the Wings’ Jordan Hall and Brendan Mundorf scored back-to-back goals to close the gap to 15-12 with 7:10 to go.

But that was all for the Wings as Dean Hill and Cliff Smith added the final two for Washington to finish the scoring.

The Stealth’s Tyler Richards had a strong night in goal stopping 38 of 51 shots.

Washington again controlled the faceoff circle with Bob Snider winning 25 of 33 while the Wings managed just eight wins between Brandon Francis and Angus Dineley.

Washington opened scoring with Athan Iannucci, who had sat out the previous two games, delivering a goal just over a minute into the contest.  But the Stealth was quickly answered by Philadelphia’s Mike McLellan and Westervelt, giving the Wings an early 2-1 lead. 

“Getting that early goal was huge,” Hall said.  “Nooch is a dynamic player in this league.  He’s big and strong and tough to handle,” Hall added.  “He was re-focused and a real good team player.  It was great to see him back being the lacrosse player we think he is.”

Washington fought back twice more in the first with goals by Duch at 9:32 to tie the game at 2-2 and Curtis Hodgson at 4:03 to knot the game at 3-3. 

But the Wings pulled away again – this time by two on special teams mistakes.

“It was very important that we didn’t get down on ourselves,” said Hall whose squad gave up back-to-back short-handed goals just 10 seconds apart by Brodie Merrill.   

“We made a couple of big mistakes there when we could’ve taken charge of the game,” Hall said.  “But it was important that we got the next one and then we got a little bit of a roll there.”

Hill’s score with just 57 remaining in the first would ignite the Stealth’s roll and ultimately put the game out of the Wings’ grasp.

Duch finished the night with four goals and five assists for nine points, while Cliff Smith had two goals and five assists for seven points and Curtis Hodgson finished with two for his first multiple-goal game of the season.

Hall and Mundorf led the Wings, each scoring two goals and adding three assists for five points apiece.

Philadelphia’s Paul Rabil, a former Stealth player, was held scoreless for the night.

The Stealth open its 2013 post-season run to the NLL championship with a 4:30 p.m. start next Saturday, April 27 against the Edmonton Rush at Comcast Arena.

“Edmonton presents a big challenge for us,” Hall said.  “The good news is we’ve played them enough times that we have a pretty good read on them and we need to just simply turn the tables.  I would expect that it’s going to be a great battle.”























Rochester 10, Buffalo 9

Colorado 16, Minnesota 14

Calgary 12, Edmonton 11

Philadelphia 13, Washington 17

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