The Washington (2-3) Stealth dropped its third game of the season tonight, losing 11-10 in overtime to the Minnesota Swarm (3-1) at the Xcel Energy Center, an arena where the Stealth hasn’t won in team history. The Swarm’s Ryan Benesch finished his hat trick just over two minutes into the overtime period to give Minnesota its second win over the defending champs in three weeks.
It was a much different game than the first meeting between the two teams, a 16-8 rout in favor of the Swarm at the Comcast Arena on January 14. Tonight’s contest was a back and forth battle throughout, with neither team holding more than a two-goal advantage.
Minnesota started the scoring with a goal from Zach Greer at the 6:23 mark of the opening frame, but the Stealth answered with goals from Paul Rabil and Rhys Duch to take a 2-1 advantage after the first period. Tyler Richards, making his second start of the season, made 11 of his 36 saves in the first quarter.
The second quarter belonged to the Swarm, thanks to four unanswered goals in the final eleven minutes of the half. Minnesota forward Callum Crawford tallied two goals and an assist in the second to give the Swarm a 6-4 advantage at the break.
The Stealth came out strong in the third quarter, with Tom Johnson tallying his first goal of the night less than a minute in, followed by Duch’s second of the game less than a minute later. Johnson would add another late in the quarter as the teams went to the fourth quarter tied at seven.
In the fourth, Stealth defenseman Mike Grimes tied the score at eight just four minutes in, but back-to-back goals from the Swarm’s Aaron Wilson to give Minnesota a two-goal edge with 7:32 left in regulation. Rabil and Johnson finished off hat tricks within two minutes of each other to tie the game with less than four minutes remaining.
A holding penalty on the Swarm’s Jon Sullivan with 20 seconds left in regulation gave the Stealth a great opportunity to take the victory. But the Swarm penalty kill unit, which held the Stealth power play to just one goal in four chances on the night, withstood the Stealth assault.
Thirty seconds later, Benesch, who scored seven goals in the first meeting between the teams, broke free in front of Richards and buried the game-winner. The Swarm’s 11-10 victory keeps them in sole possession of first place in the West Division, a gives them the season tiebreaker over the Stealth.
“We fought through adversity throughout the game and it was a pretty good effort for us,” said Stealth Head Coach Chris Hall following the game. “But when we had the opportunity to win, we didn’t cash in.”
Rabil led the Stealth with three goals and three assists and grabbed five loose balls. Johnson also recorded a hat trick in the game. Rhys Duch finished with two goals and an assist while Lewis Ratclff was credited with a game-high four assists. Richards made 36 saves in his first loss of the season. Face-off specialist Jamison Koesterer went 16 for 25 at the face off circle.
Benesch paced the Swarm with three goals and two assists. In two games versus the Stealth this season, Benesch has tallied 10 goals and six assists. Crawford and Wilson each added two goals and three assists. Swarm goaltender Nick Patterson finished with 40 saves.
The Stealth continues a four-game road trip next weekend, when they travel to Denver, Colo., to face the Colorado Mammoth. That game will face-off at 6:30pm PST and can be seen live on the NLL Network at NLL.com.