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Disappointing loss to Swarm delays Stealth’s post season entry

03/16/2013, 11:45pm PDT
By Mike McQuaid
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Rhys Duch winds up for a shot on Saturday In Minnesota (Photo: Scott Pierson)

NLL Week 11: Washington 5 at Minnesota 12

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Looking for just a single win to earn a post-season berth, the Washington Stealth ran into a Minnesota team firing on all cylinders Saturday night, falling to the Swarm 12-5 before 7,830 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.

For a Washington offense that at times has been stellar this season, including its performance in a three-game win steak leading up to Saturday’s trip into the Twin Cities, the output was a disappointment.

“Our offense failed to show.  We just had a terrible night,” Stealth head coach Chris Hall said.

At one point after tying the game at 2-2 early in the second on a Mike Grimes goal, the Stealth went a full 32 minutes without scoring as Minnesota wracked-up six straight goals through the intermission and into the early minutes of the third to build an 8-2 lead.

From there the frustration only continued as not just Washington – but Minnesota faced brilliant goaltending. 

“T-Rich stood on his head to keep us in it,” Hall said on his goaltender’s performance, which is becoming the norm night in and night out for the Stealth.

Richards, who faced 60 shots including 34 in the second half, only allowed seven goals through the third quarter.

His work included a double-stop on a breakaway by the Swarm’s David Earl mid-way through the fourth, that in any other game would have been a momentum changer.

With Earl grabbing the ball on transition and running most of the floor, Richards denied the shot from just a few feet out, then turned his attention to the Swarm’s trailer Jordan MacIntosh, who double pumped a shot on Richards that was also turned down.  MacIntosh finished the night with five assists and 11 loose balls.

“I thought T-Rich was spectacular,” Hall said.  “He kept us in it while we tried to get the offense unstuck.  But it never happened.”

Swarm goaltender Tyler Carlson turned away 48 of 53 shots.

In the first, Washington opened scoring on a Dean Hill goal at 8:16 to take the early lead. Taking seven shots, it was Hill’s only score of the night.

Minnesota responded with back-to-back Callum Crawford scores just over a minute later. 

Following Grimes’ tying goal at 12:15 of the first, the Stealth struggled over the next half-hour of play.

Trailing by four-goals to start the second half, Washington began the third with a five-on-three advantage but were unable to find the back of the net, while giving up a shorthanded goal, the only score by either team in the quarter, to Jay Card coming off the bench.

After Card's goal, the Stealth was never able to come any closer than five goals.

Offensively, the Stealth was led by Rhys Duch with two goals and two assists for four points increasing his season total to an NLL-best 33 goals this season. 

The Stealth also received a fourth-quarter score from Lewis Ratcliff, who finished with two points on the night.

For the Swarm, Crawford led all scorers with four goals all of which came in the first half of play.

In the faceoff circle, the Stealth’s Bob Snider was 11 of 20 for 55 percent, while MacIntosh was just nine of 19 for 47 percent.

With the Stealth scrapping and clawing their way into contention for the post season, Saturday’s game marked a low-water mark in production since a 16-5 home loss to Edmonton last January and is just the fourth time in franchise history dating to stints in Albany and San Jose where the team have scored five or fewer goals. 

Prior to the game, the Stealth activated its third round pick (21st overall) in this last year’s NLL Entry Draft, Mitch Jones. 

Jones, who spent the winter completing the collegiate hockey season at Northern Michigan University, delivered a solid performance, finishing with an assist and took two shots.

“I thought he was fine,” Hall said of the 6-2, 185 pounder from Delta, British Columbia.  “He didn’t get a ton of shifts.  But he got his feet wet.  He looked like he fit just fine.”

The Stealth, who fell to 7-5 on the season, still retain a half-game lead in the West with Calgary sitting idle but lost ground to both Edmonton and Colorado, which won their games, enjoy a bye-week before taking-on the Roughnecks at home on March 30.

“It’s been a grind to get to here.  (Tonight’s game) was a disappointing loss going into the last games of the season,” Hall said.  “Our and goaltending and defense is rock solid, but our offense needs some work.  I’m certainly looking forward to that first practice before the Calgary game.”

The Stealth return home to Comcast Arena for a Saturday, March 30 contest with rival Calgary and the first leg of a home-and-home series with the Roughnecks.  Game time is 6:45 p.m. PT. 

 

Scoring

1

2

3

4

 

 F

Washington

1

1

0

3

    --

  5

Minnesota

2

4

1

5

    --

12

 

Around the NLL

Saturday, March 16

Toronto 13, Philadelphia 8

Edmonton 11, Rochester 9

Buffalo 13, Colorado 16

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