Lewis Ratcliff recorded a season-high eleven points against the Bandits Saturday night (Photo: Brad Husick).
The Washington Stealth wrapped up the 2012 season today with a 16-15 overtime loss to the Buffalo Bandits. It was the fifth longest game in National Lacrosse League history, as Buffalo’s John Tavares scored 9:55 into the overtime period to end the Stealth’s season with a 4-12 record.
Tonight’s contest was a game of runs from start to finish. The Bandits (7-9), who head to the postseason next week as the fourth seed in the East, started the game with four unanswered goals in the first ten minutes of action. The Stealth responded with two from Lewis Ratcliff to close out the first quarter, followed by a Dean Hill power play tally to open the second frame.
Ratcliff scored two more in the second quarter as part of a four-goal run that gave the Stealth a 7-5 lead with less than three minutes remaining in the first half. Ratcliff finished with a season-high seven goals.
“We buried ourselves a few times throughout the game,” said Stealth Head Coach Chris Hall. “But we played with a lot of heart and pride and gave ourselves a chance to win.”
The Bandits closed out the second quarter with three goals in just over two minutes to take an 8-7 lead at the halftime break.
With the Bandits leading 10-9 midway through the third quarter, Buffalo went on a three-goal run to extend their lead to four goals. The Bandits entered the fourth quarter with a 14-10 lead.
The Stealth offense came alive in the fourth quarter. After the Bandits scored a pair to make the score 16-11 with just under ten minutes left in regulation, the Stealth went on a five-goal run in seven minutes to even the score. Rhys Duch scored two and assisted on two others during the run and Athan Iannucci added a pair. Ratcliff capped the run with his seventh goal of the night with just under two minutes left in the quarter.
The run was made possible by the stellar play of face-off man Bob Snider, who kept the ball in Stealth possession with consecutive face off wins. He finished 30-for-37 from the face-off circle, setting a new NLL single-season record with 318 face-off wins this season. Snider also finished with a game-high 17 loose balls, giving him 202 this season, a Stealth single-season record.
With time winding down in regulation, the Bandits’ Scott Self had a breakaway opportunity to win the game after a Stealth turnover. Stealth backup goaltender Kevin Croswell turned away the breakaway chance, sending the game to overtime. Croswell made 17 saves and allowed just five goals in 25 minutes of action in relief of Tyler Richards.
Both teams had several opportunities to win the game during the overtime period, but both goaltenders held strong. Nearly ten minutes in, John Tavares scored a power play goal that barely squeaked through Croswell.
Ratcliff led all scorers with seven goals and four assists for a season-high eleven points. Duch finished with four goals and four assists. Iannucci was credited with six assists to go along with two goals and Brett Bucktooth tallied a goal and seven assists.
Mark Steenhuis, Roger Vyse and Tavares each finished with hat tricks for the Bandits. Steenhuis was also credited with four assists. Goaltender Anthony Cosmo made 47 saves in the win.
The Stealth ends the 2012 season with a 4-12 record, missing the playoffs for the first time since 2006.