The Washington Stealth lost the first half of a back-to-back weekend tonight, losing 13-12 in overtime to the Toronto Rock (10-3). Stealth goaltender Tyler Richards equaled a career high with 53 saves as the Stealth falls to 6-7 on the season.
For fans of the National Lacrosse League, the rematch of the 2010 NLL Championship game between the Stealth and Rock did not disappoint. It was a fast-paced, physical affair from start to finish.
The Rock controlled play in the first quarter with two even strength goals as well as a pair of power play tallies. Stealth transition player Paul Rabil scored the lone Stealth goal in the first quarter and the Rock led 4-1 after 15 minutes.
The Stealth was whistled for 10 first half penalties in the first half and the Rock took advantage, going 5-for-7 on the power play on the night including four extra-man goals in the first half.
The Stealth outscored the Rock 3-1 in the second quarter. Despite being outshot 35-22 in the first half, the Stealth trailed by just one goal thanks to the stellar play of Richards, who had 30 saves at the break.
“We got ourselves in trouble early with all the penalties in the first half,” said Stealth Head Coach Chris Hall after the game. “Tyler [Richards] was phenomenal for us and got us back in it.”
The Stealth tied the game five minutes into the third quarter when All-Star forward Lewis Ratcliff tallied a power play goal on a rebound. The teams continued to trade goals, but at the 7:41 mark, the Stealth gained its first lead of the game when an outside shot by Cam Sedgwick made it 8-7.
Toronto found an answer to the tune of three straight goals to end the third, including another power play marker with just over two minutes remaining in the third. The Rock held a 10-8 advantage heading into the final 15 minutes of regulation.
The Stealth scored three straight to open the fourth quarter scoring; defenseman Chris O’Dougherty recorded his first career goal midway through the quarter to give the Stealth an 11-10 advantage. After another Rock power play goal, Ratcliff completed a hat trick with 2:01 left in regulation to regain the Stealth’s one-goal lead.
With 1:12 left in regulation, the Rock’s Stephan Leblanc found himself alone in front to tally the goal that would send the game into overtime. Just over five minutes into the overtime period, it was Leblanc again, as he dove from behind the goal to beat Richards and give the Rock the 13-12 victory.
“We deserved better in this one,” said Hall. “The boys battled hard and showed a lot of heart to stay in the game. It was very frustrating in the end, but we need to focus on tomorrow now, because we’ve got another big game against Buffalo.”
Ratcliff paced the Stealth offense with a team-high six points on three goals and three assists. Rhys Duch finished with two goals and two assists and Rabil tallied a goal and four assists. Rabil also grabbed eleven loose balls.
Leblanc finished the game with a three goals and an assist. Colin Doyle and Garrett Billings each added two goals and five assists. Rock goaltender Bob Watson made 35 saves in the win.
The Stealth travels to HSBC Arena in Buffalo tomorrow night to take on the East Division’s second place team Buffalo Bandits. That game can be seen live on the NLL Network at NLL.com.