The San Jose Stealth opened their 2009 season with a 12-10 loss to the Calgary Roughnecks on January 9 at the HP Pavilion. Scott Ranger sealed the victory with seventeen seconds left to stifle a Stealth comeback that brought the hosts within one late in the fourth quarter.
Both teams struggled to mount much of an attack in the first quarter and turnovers were an issue, particularly on the Stealth side of the ball. The turnovers resulted in more chances for the visiting Roughnecks, who outshot the Stealth by more than 2-to-1 in the opening frame. But thanks to an outstanding performance by Matt Roik, who made his first start in goal for San Jose, the score was tied at one going into the second quarter. Roik made 14 of his 46 saves in the first. The lone Stealth goal came at the hands of second-year forward Tom Johnson, who opened the scoring four minutes into the game on a feed from Colin Doyle. The Roughnecks tied the score midway through the first on a power play goal. They would convert on five of their seven power play chances in the game.
The Stealth took a lead with three straight goals to start the second stanza. 2008 All-Star Jeff Zywicki showed he’s still in All-Star form, scoring a pair of highlight reel goals within a minute of one another to give the Stealth a 3-1 lead. His first of the day came when he torched a Roughnecks defender with a spin move and beat the goalie top shelf from point blank. His second was even more spectacular, as he dove from behind the cage a stuffed the ball into the back of the net, leaving the Roughneck keeper without a chance.
The Stealth took a 4-1 lead midway through the second thanks to a Colin Doyle goal on assists from highly-touted rookie, Paul Rabil and Zywicki. The assist was the first point of Rabil’s career (he finished the game with two assists), and after his performance Friday night, it won’t be his last point in the NLL. He illustrated the talents that made him the second overall pick in the 2008 NLL Entry Draft.
The Roughnecks got back into the game with a pair of goals to cut the Stealth lead to one with 6:26 left in the half. Frank Resetarits scored his first goal of the day three minutes later on the power play. He finished the day with a hat trick. Calgary came back to tie the score before the half, converting on a power play with less than a minute left and then just ten seconds later, scored the equalizer. The teams entered the locker room at halftime with the score tied at five.
The third quarter proved to be the difference in the game for the Stealth. The offense struggled, unable to score in the third. The Roughnecks rattled off five goals to take a commanding 10-5 lead heading into the final quarter of play.
In the fourth, the Stealth offense came back to life. Rookie of the year candidate, Rhys Duch started a four-goal run just over a minute into the final quarter. Johnson scored a minute later followed by Duch’s second and another from Resetarits to make the score 10-9 with four minutes to play. With 1:37 left, Calgary went up by two on a goal from Josh Sanderson. Resetarits completed his hat trick with 41 seconds left and pulled the Stealth within one once again. But with time running out and the Stealth desperately looking for the equalizer, Ranger got behind the Stealth defense that was pressing hard for a turnover and beat Roik one-on-one to seal the 12-10 victory.
Calgary dominated the game from a statistical standpoint. They outshot the Stealth 58-36 and won the loose ball battle, 51-38. Ultimately, turnovers and a stagnant third quarter dug the Stealth too big a hole in the end. “We didn’t move the ball wellon offense,” said first-year Head Coach Jeff Dowling. “We showed a lot of spirit in the comeback, but if we do what we are capable of offensively, we shouldn’t be in that position.”
The Stealth will not have much time to dwell on the loss, as they turn around and travel to Minnesota for a game on January 10 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. The Swarm are coming off an 11-7 win last week over the Portland Lumberjax. The Stealth lead the all-time series with the Swarm 3-0 and are 1-0 in the North Star State. The game can be watched live at 5:00pm (PST) on the NLL Network at NLL.com.