The Washington Stealth beat the Orlando Titans by a score of 17-7 tonight in at the Amway Arena in Orlando, Fla. Rhys Duch had nine points to earn the game’s MVP honors as the Stealth regained their position as the lone team at the top of the National Lacrosse League West Division standings.
Going into tonight’s contest, the Titans (8-5) featured one of the leauge’s hottest goaltenders in Matt Vinc. It was the Stealth’s Matt Roik that earned the win, recording 34 saves and holding the East’s top team to just seven goals as he improved his record to 6-0 on the season.
“Matt Roik was sensational tonight,” said Stealth Head Coach Chris Hall. “He shut the door on some great offensive talent on the Titan’s bench. He made some big saves when the game was close, and continued to make them to hold the lead.”
The goaltenders put on a clinic in the first quarter, allowing just three total goals. Mike McLellan put the Titans in front 1-0 just over five minutes into the game. It would be the only time Orlando would lead. Cam Sedgwick and Duch scored back-to-back goals to give the Stealth a 2-1 lead after one.
With the Stealth up 6-3 in the second quarter, former Stealth player Nick O’Hara scored for Orlando to cut the lead to two with a minute left in the first half, but again Washington had the answer. In the final 30 seconds of the half, three straight goals from the Stealth, highlighted by an empty net goal from defenseman Kyle Sorensen as first half buzzer sounded. It gave Washington a 9-4 lead at the break and Hall felt it gave the Stealth more than just a five-goal advantage.
“The three goals to end the first half was a turning point in this game,” said Hall, who improved his record as the Stealth’s Head Coach to 15-6 since taking over in the middle of last season. “It was early in the game, but it was a sign that we weren’t going to let them back into the game.”
Orlando’s Casey Powell did his part to keep the Titans in the game, completing his hat trick just 24 seconds into the second half. But Duch responded with back-to-back goals in a two-minute span that finished a hat trick of his own and made it 11-5.
It was 12-6 after three quarters of play, but the Stealth didn’t let off the throttle. They outscored the Orlando 5-1 in the final frame, including the last four goals of the game. Rookie Joel Dalgarno and Luke Wiles each scored twice in the quarter as the Stealth went on to the 17-7 victory.
“I’m elated at the way our entire team played tonight,” said Hall. “We lost a tough one last week in Edmonton. Wins are hard to come by in this league, but we responded in every facet of the game. I have nothing to complain about after this win.”
While Duch’s nine points led all scorers, Wiles and Ratcliff enjoyed big evenings with three goals and five assists apiece. Sedgwick also recorded a hat trick and added three assists. Dalgarno added two and one while Paul Rabil and Mike Grimes each tallied two assists.
Defensively, the Stealth’s penalty kill unit lived up to that title, holding the Titans scoreless on three power play opportunities. Eric Martin recorded a game-high ten loose balls and pitched in on offense with a goal and an assist.
The Titans were led by Powell, who finished with three goals and two assists. McLellan and Ryan Boyle had three points each. Vinc made 37 saves in the loss.
The Stealth returns home on April 17 to take on West Division rival Edmonton Rush. First place in the West will be on the line at the Comcast Arena with just one game separating the two teams. The game starts at 7:30pm PST and tickets are available by calling 877-MY-75-TIX or at www.stealthlax.com.