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Stealth comes from behind to drop Edmonton, advances to NLL West Final

04/27/2013, 10:15pm PDT
By Mike McQuaid
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(Photo: Brad Husick)

NLL West Division Semi-final: Edmonton 11, Washington 12

EVERETT, Wash. – The Washington Stealth advanced to the West Division Final of the National Lacrosse League playoffs after exploding for 10 second-half goals to earn a 12-11 come-from-behind semi-final win over the Edmonton Rush, Saturday before 3,022 at Everett’s Comcast Arena. 

The win propelled the Stealth to its third trip in the past four years to the West Division Final next Saturday, May 4 where it will take on the Calgary Roughnecks.  Calgary earned a berth in the final with a 15-10 defeat of Colorado in its semi-final on Saturday night.

The West Division Final gets underway at 3:30 p.m. PDT from Calgary’s Scotiabank Saddledome with the winner advancing to the NLL championship game.  Saturday’s game is televised live on the CBS Sports Network.

“That win had championship type emotion to it," said Washington goaltender Tyler Richards who faced 48 shots including 26 in the second half. “It was an emotional roller coaster from start to finish.  Coming back from five goals down at the half everyone was just so over whelmed with excitement and disbelief.”

Falling behind 6-0 in the first on the way to a 7-2 half-time deficit, the Stealth pounded-out seven third-quarter goals capped by a coast-to-coast pass by Richards into the stick of defender Mike Grimes who threw a point-blank shot past Edmonton goaltender Aaron Bold as time expired in the quarter.  The play brought Washington to within a goal of Edmonton entering the final quarter. 

“That was a giant goal for us.  (Grimes) has been magic for us all year,” said Washington coach Chris Hall whose squad hadn’t fallen behind by six or more goals to open a game since it slipped 8-0 on the way to dropping a 13-9 home contest to Calgary in its 2010 NLL championship season.

“It was a giant motivator because now we are within one with a quarter to go,” Hall said.

Entering the fourth, the Stealth capitalized on a five-minute major with 48 seconds to go in the third to Edmonton’s Jeff Cornwall for checking from behind.  With his second major of the game, Cornwall was ejected from the contest.

“We talked about how we can’t get too high or too low and if things go poorly,” Hall said.  “You have to weather the storm and keeping hanging in there and then ultimately the tide might turn for you. That happened for us tonight and we took advantage.”

With the power-play on its side, the Stealth, which converted on four of six man-advantage situations, would go on to score the next three within the first three-and-a-half minutes of the fourth to take a 12-10 lead.  

While the Richards-Grimes combination ignited the Stealth as time expired in the third, it was Jeff Moleski’s power-play goal at 13:38 of the fourth and Lewis Ratcliff’s go-ahead goal just 1:02 later that were the difference makers in the game.

The Stealth’s Athan Iannucci added the insurance score just 27 seconds later to give Washington enough cushion for the win.

Jarrett Davis brought the Rush within one with 5:12 remaining, but that would be all for the West’s #1 seed as the Stealth would hang-on in the final minutes to advance to the West Division finals.

After testing one another for just over five minutes of the first, Edmonton struck first with Curtis Knight beating Richards at the 9:22 mark.

Knight’s only score on the night was the first of six unanswered Edmonton goals through 13:17 of the second that prompted Washington coach Chris Hall to replace Richards with backup Matt Roik. 

“I got away from what makes me successful which is playing each ball one shot at a time,” said Richards who managed to get piece of most of the Edmonton goals in the first but struggled to keep the ball out of the net. 

“I started thinking about what guys were going to do and of course they did the opposite,” said Richards who credited Roik getting his head back on what has made him one of the toughest goaltenders to beat this season. 

 “The only person to really say anything to me was (Matt Roik),” Richards said.  “As he was trotting onto the field he told me ‘go take a breather and get your focus back - you got this.’”

 Just minutes later Rhys Duch finally stopped the bleeding, putting the Stealth on the board to make it 6-1. 

“They came out so strong and used their athleticism to really be all over us,” said Duch who went on to lead the Stealth with four goals. 

With just over 10 minutes to go in the quarter and Washington looking to capitalize on the power-play following Cornwall’s major, Hall sent Richards back out.

“(Roik) had some good things to say to me at half time and then again at the start of the third,” said Richards.  “He really pulled me through it mentally tonight.”

Edmonton’s Mark Matthews added the Rush’s seventh of the night on a power-play score at 2:53 before Athan Iannucci found the net with 1:24 remaining for Washington’s second of the night.

In the third, Washington emerged from the break with renewed hunger as Duch notched the first of back-to-back goals just 20 seconds into half.  

"It's really easy to give up at 7-2 but we shoed our professionalism, our live for each other and our love for the game and just stuck with it," said Duch whonadded the second just 40 seconds later to narrow the gap to 7-4.  

After an Edmonton goal made it 8-4 with 12:13 to go in the quarter, the Stealth added two more by Tyler Garrison and Duch to bring the game to within two at 6-8.  Duch’s goal at 9:13 was his fourth of the night. 

After trading goals through the two-minute mark to take it to 10-7 in favor of the Rush, Iannucci converted at 1:31 to go in the third.  The score again brought the game within two, before Richards ignited his squad with a floor-length pass to Grimes for the quarter-ending score to cut the Rush lead to just a single goal.

In the end, Washington’s defense bore-down on Edmonton, holding the Rush to just a single goal in the fourth.

“We never changed our defense tonight.  It’s been great for us all year,” said Hall.  “We had a few break downs in the first half that we needed to take away. And there were a couple of little adjustments with individual players.  But we played the same style we just played better in the second half.”

With the win, Washington evened its record with Edmonton at 2-2 on the season.

It was the second time in as many weeks that Edmonton would build an early lead then allow its opponent back in for the win.  In last Saturday’s final game of the regular season, the Rush built an early 5-1 advantage at home against Calgary, only to fall 12-11 in overtime.

The Stealth was led by Rhys Duch with four goals and two assists for six points and Brett Bucktooth with a goal and four assists for five points.  

With four goals, the NLL regular season goals champion produced his 12th hat trick of season and fourth consecutive game with at least three goals.

Calgary was led by Corey Small with three goals and three assists for six points.

LAX SHORTS

Seattle Seahawks punter Jon Ryan handled the ceremonial ball drop before the start of Saturday’s game.

Rhys Duch’s four goals marked the 12th hat trick of the season for the Victoria, British Columbia native.  It was Duch’s fourth consecutive game with three or more goals.

 

Scoring

1

2

3

4

 

 F

Edmonton

4

3

3

1

--

11

Washington

0

2

7

3

--

12

 

AROUND THE NLL

Saturday, April 27 Games

Edmonton 11, Washington 12 (Washington advances to the West Division final against Calgary)

Philadelphia 8, Rochester 10 (Rochester advances to East Division final facing the winner of Sunday’s Minnesota-Toronto semi-final)

Colorado 10, Calgary 15 (Calgary advances to the West Division final against Seattle)

Sunday, April 28 Games

Minnesota at Toronto (12 noon PDT)

 

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