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Stealth defeat Calgary on road, secure third post-season berth in four years

04/06/2013, 11:05pm PDT
By Mike McQuaid
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Stealth goaltender Tyler Richards makes a stop in Saturday's NLL contest in Calgary. (Photo: Brad Watson)

NLL Week 14: Washington 12, Calgary 11

CALGARY, Alberta -- The Washington Stealth secured its third post-season berth in four years with a come-from-behind 12-11 NLL road victory against the Calgary Roughnecks on Saturday night before 10,008 at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary.  

Washington forward Rhys Duch scored the winning goal with 2:45 remaining after the Stealth's Dean Hill tied the game just a minute before.  

“We were a championship team tonight,” said Duch who took a Mitch McMichael pass and converted the game winner after Calgary goaltender Mike Poulin followed his momentum in front of the goal creating an opportunity for a clean shot.  

“Scoring seven of the last nine goals is huge for our confidence, said Duch, whose winner capped a three goal, four assist player-of-the-game performance on the night.  It was the ninth hat trick this season for the Victoria, British Columbia native.

Now 8-6 on the season and guaranteed a .500 finish or better for the third time in four years, the Stealth turn its sights on the two remaining regular season home games where it can secure a post-season, home-floor advantage with a successful finish.

Forging a narrow 4-3 lead midway through the second, the Stealth turned its edge into misfortune, giving up five straight scores through the end of the half and into the opening minutes of the third to trail 8-4.

“We struggled a bit in the first half.  We weren’t sound,” said Stealth head coach Chris Hall, who’s squad managed just 26 first-half shots to Calgary’s 35 on the way to a 50-59 margin.  “When you make fundamental errors against a good team they’re going to make you pay.”   

The Stealth’s Brett Bucktooth temporarily halted the run, beating Poulin at 12:29 of the third to make it 8-5. 

But Calgary’s Curtis Dickson scored his second of the night just 23 seconds later to extend the margin to 9-5.

“They have a great team and we know it was going to be a battle,” said Hall who, with the win, became the fourth head coach in NLL history to win 80 or more games.  

Not giving in, Washington’s Lewis Ratcliff answered with a power play goal just 27 seconds later for his second of the night.  The score ignited a five-goal ride by the Stealth that would put it back into the lead and in position to take the game. 

For Ratcliff, who finished with three goals and two assists for five points on the night, the hat trick was his fifth of the season.

But it was rookie Kyle Buchanan’s short-handed goal with 4:28 to go in the third, bringing the Stealth to within a goal of the Roughnecks along with the ability to weather Calgary’s power-play, that were the difference makers.

“When we were down early, we dug in and managed to prevail,” said Hall, whose squad held the Roughnecks to 2-5 on the power-play while converting 5-8 of its own opportunities.   “We showed a lot of character tonight,” he said. “To win here is huge.”

Buchanan finished the night with a goal and two assists for three points along with grabbing six loose balls to join Stealth defenders Matt Beers (7) and Mike Grimes (8) on top of the leaderboard.

In the fourth, the Stealth again gave back the lead with Calgary’s Jeff Shattler getting his second of the night at 10:59 to knot the game at 10-10 and Curtis Dickson getting his third just 10 seconds later for the go-ahead goal.

But that would be all for the Roughnecks, as Hill knotted the game at 11-11 with 3:45 to go to put Duch in position for the go-ahead score.

“You always want to peak in the last quarter of the season and secure your playoff spot as quickly as you can,” Hall said. “It’s great that we earned our way in and have a chance for a home playoff date.”

In goal, Stealth goaltender Tyler Richards made 48 saves, holding the Roughnecks to under 12 goals for just the third time this season.  Calgary’s Poulin had 38.

With the win, the Stealth took the season series with the Roughnecks and locked-in the post-season tie-break.  It was Washington's first win in Calgary since it's West Division championship victory in 2011.

The Stealth return home to Comcast Arena on Saturday, April 13 for the first of the final two games of the regular season.  On Saturday, April 13, the Stealth take on the Buffalo Bandits and on Saturday, April 20 meet-up with the Philadelphia Wings. Game time for both contests is 6:45 p.m. PDT. 

Scoring

1

2

3

4

 

 F

Washington

2

2

6

2

    --

12

Calgary

3

4

2

2

    --

11

LAX SHORTS

With three goals in Saturday’s win, Rhys Duch pulled to within a single score of league leader John Grant Jr. who managed just one goal in Colorado’s 9-7 win over Edmonton.  Grant Jr. has 38 and is tied with Calgary’s Curtis Dickson.  Duch has 37 and is tied with Calgary’s Dane Dobbie. 

Stealth goaltender Tyler Richards entered Saturday’s game in second on the Stealth’s all-time saves list. In his fifth season with the Stealth, the Coquitlam, British Columbia native has made 2,021 saves, residing only behind Rob Blasdell (2.493).

With the win over Calgary, the Stealth secured the season series with the Roughnecks and a tie-breaker in the post season.

 

Around the NLL

Saturday, April 6

Washington 12, Calgary 11

Philadelphia 7, Rochester 14

Buffalo 7, Minnesota 21

Colorado 9, Edmonton 7

 

Sunday, April 7

Rochester at Toronto (12 noon PDT / 3 p.m. EDT)

 

-- www.StealthLAX.com --

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