Lewis Ratcliff spent his
first six seasons with the Calgary Roughnecks, winning the 2004 National
Lacrosse League Championship with the club. He returned to the Pengrowth Saddledome for the first time
in a Stealth jersey on Saturday night and posted nine points (6g, 3a) to lead
the Stealth to a 16-15 victory in their first road game of the season.
The Stealth (4-0, 3-0) were on fire to start the game despite engaging in a physical battle with the Buffalo Bandits the night before. They outscored the Roughnecks 5-1 in the first period, with Jeff Zywicki getting things started just 2:39 into the game. Ratcliff scored twice in the opening frame and completed the natural hat trick at the start of the second quarter.
The Roughnecks battled back with a big rally in the second, tying the score at seven and then again at nine going into the half time break. The Roughnecks had chances to take the lead at numerous points in the second quarter with three power plays, but the Stealth penalty kill unit stood firm and instead tallied three shorthanded goals.
Face-offs proved to be a major factor in the game as the Stealth won nine of the first ten draws. Throughout the rest of the game however, they won just 8 of the next 25. As a result, the Roughnecks won the loose ball battle 86-74 in the game.
In the third quarter, the Stealth scored twice to take an 11-9 lead, but three unanswered goals from the Roughnecks resulted in their first lead of the game at 12-11. The teams traded goals to close out the third and the Roughnecks held a 13-12 edge heading into the final stanza.
The Roughnecks extended their lead with a goal by Dane Dobbie just 22 seconds into the fourth, but the Stealth answered back in a big way. Four straight fourth quarter goals by Zywicki, Cam Sedgwick, Luke Wiles and Ratcliff gave the Stealth all the scoring they would need. The Roughnecks would add one more to make it 16-15 with 55 seconds remaining, but could not get past Stealth goaltender Matt Roik in the waning moments.
Ratcliff was named the game’s MVP with a game-high six goals and nine points. Zywicki finished with six points (2g, 4a) and Sedgwick recorded his second straight game with at least three goals and added two assists. Paul Rabil and Rhys Duch each finished with a goal and four assists and Wiles has two and one.
Roik got the start in goal and recorded 33 saves in the win. Jamison Koesterer and Jason Bloom lead the Stealth with 14 and 13 loose balls, respectively.
“Tonight was one more step towards becoming a great lacrosse team,” said Stealth Head Coach Chris Hall, who coached in Calgary from 2002-2007 and was the bench boss for the 2004 Roughnecks that won the NLL title. “We are going to get better, but after a 4-0 start, I don’t have too much to complain about.”
The 4-0 start marks the best start in Stealth history. They look to make it five in a row next weekend when they travel to Denver, Colo., to face the Colorado Mammoth. The game is scheduled to start at 6:00pm PST and can be seen on the NLL Network at NLL.com.