Through six games the Washington Stealth had been holding their opposition to just over ten goals per game. Last week, the Minnesota Swarm scored just nine at the Comcast Arena as the Stealth took the 12-9 victory. But tonight, in front of 8,952 Swarm fans at the Xcel Energy Center, Minnesota (2-4) lit up the scoreboard with 16 goals en route to a 16-12 win. It is the first loss for the Stealth this season as they fall to 6-1.
The Stealth got off to a strong start as Lewis Ratcliff took advantage of an early Swarm penalty with a power play goal just over a minute into the game. From that point however, the game was controlled by the Swarm. They went on a 5-0 run in the next seven minutes to take a 5-1 lead and wouldn’t trail again. A Paul Rabil goal for the Stealth made the score 5-2 after the first quarter.
The Stealth were able to get within two goals in the first half with the help of three power play goals. The Stealth power play unit went 4-for-7 on the night. A transition goal from Kyle Hartzell in the waning moments of the second quarter made the score 8-6 at the break.
Any momentum gathered by the Stealth at the end of the first half was taken away at the start of the third, as the Swarm scored back-to-back goals to make the score 10-6. Both goals were uncontested in front of Stealth goaltender Tyler Richards, who was facing point-blank shots all night. Minnesota outscored the Stealth 5-2 in the third quarter to take a 13-8 lead into the final stanza.
“Our defense was terrible tonight,” said Stealth Head Coach Chris Hall. “Fundamentally we were extremely poor on the defensive end.”
The Stealth offense, who entered the game averaging a league-high 14.16 goals per game, seemed to be mounting a comeback early in the fourth, as Luke Wiles scored less than thirty seconds into the quarter. Jason Bloom appeared to have scored just minutes later, but review of the play wiped the goal off the scoreboard. Ratcliff netted his fourth goal of the night at the 10:23 mark to make it 13-10.
But once again the Swarm had an answer, scoring three straight, including an empty net tally with just two minutes left to seal the game. The Stealth would add two in the final minute to make it 16-12 at the final buzzer.
“I thought our offense was very average tonight, but twelve goals should keep you in games,” added Hall. “It just goes to show you, on any given night, if you don’t come with all your energy and focus in this league, you will lose.”
Ratcliff paced the Stealth offense with four goals and added two assists. Rhys Duch finished with two goals and four assists and Jeff Zywicki had two and two. Cam Sedgwick was credited with a game-high seven assists.
Richards made 25 saves on 40 shots in the loss. Jamison Koesterer was strong in the face-offcircle once again, winning 22-of-32 draws. He had a game-high and career-high 22 loose balls.
The Swarm got a big night out of Tim Campeau, who scored four times. Ran Benesch recorded six points on three goals and three assists and Aaron Wilson finished with two goals and six assists. Kevin Croswell made 28 saves in goal.
The Stealth return home next week to take on the defending NLL Champion Calgary Roughnecks. It is Northwest Harvest Night at the Comcast Arena with a food drive and fundraisers to benefit Northwest Harvest. Tickets are available by calling 877-MY-75-TIX or at www.stealthlax.com.