The San Jose Stealth clinched a playoff berth with an 11-10 overtime victory over the Colorado Mammoth at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colo., on April 11. Rhys Duch scored the game-winning goal at the 7:42 mark of the overtime period to send the Stealth home with the victory.
Over 16,000 fans piled into the Pepsi Center to witness the most important game of the season between a pair of bitter National Lacrosse League West Division rivals. They were not disappointed as both teams fought tooth and nail throughout the game.
Colorado jumped out to a 4-1 lead at the end of the first quarter. Brian Langtry scored twice in the opening frame while Colin Doyle scored the only goal for the Stealth.
The second quarter belonged to San Jose; Rhys Duch scored three times in the quarter and the score was tied at six going into the break. Duch’s third goal of the game gave him 83 points on the season, breaking the single-season points record of 82 set by Colorado’s Gavin Prout in 2002. Prout set the record while with the New York Saints franchise.
In the third quarter, the Mammoth took control, scoring the only two goals of the period to take an 8-6 lead. But the Stealth responded with two goals to start the fourth quarter from Duch and fellow rookie Paul Rabil to tie the score at eight.
With just over five minutes remaining in regulation, Colorado took the lead on a goal from Ray Guze. Doyle tied the score just over two minutes later for the Stealth.
Colorado’s Chris Gill scored with 58 seconds left to give the Mammoth a 10-9 lead and put the Stealth’s playoff hopes in jeopardy. The Stealth turned to their Captain, and with 22 seconds left, Doyle scored with an extra attacker to tie the score at ten and send the game into overtime.
Both teams had their chances in the extra frame, but at the 7:42 mark of the overtime period, Duch scooped up a rebound and stuck it passed Colorado goaltender Andrew Leyshon to send the Stealth home with the 11-10 victory.
Duch’s record-breaking night finished with five goals and three assists. Doyle scored three times and added four assists. Doyle’s four assists put him in a tie for the NLL’s single-season assist record with 71 on the season. Jeff Zywicki was credited with a goal and five assists. Kyle Sorensen finished with a game-high 14 loose balls. Tyler Richards earned the win with 41 saves on 51 shots.
Colorado was led by Gill, who scored four goals. Leyshon had 50 saves in the loss.
The Stealth clinched a playoff berth with the win. They face the Toronto Rock in the final game of the regular season on April 18. A win will clinch the third seed in the West Division and a bout with the Portland Lumberjax in the first round. The game in Toronto is scheduled to begin at 4:00pm PST. You can see all the action on the NLL Network at NLL.com.