The Washington Stealth (2-0) beat the Colorado Mammoth (0-1) on the road to spoil the Mammoth's 2013 National Lacrosse League home opener by a score of 17-13 on Saturday night at Pepsi Center.
After a disappointing 4-12 record during the 2012 NLL season following consecutive title game appearances, the Stealth have already matched half of their win total from last year.
“We talked about building off of last week,” said Stealth head coach Chris Hall. Tonight, with five rookies in the lineup, we know that those guys can step up in the league. It was a great way to start to the season."
Washington secured their second road win to open the 2013 season with ease, much in part to Cliff Smith, who led all runners on the night with seven points (4+3). Forwards Rhys Duch and Lewis Ratcliff added four points (3+1) each while transition player Bob Snider colleceted 23 loose balls and went 27-for-33 (82%) on faceoffs.
“We knew the first quarter was going to be tough," said Mammoth head coach Bob Hamley. "But that’s no excuse we have to be better and we knew that, we talked about that before we went out.We didn’t get the stops and we didn’t score the goals when we needed them.”
2012 NLL MVP John Grant Jr., highlighted Colorado’s outing with six points (3+3). Adam Jones, the 2012 Rookie of the Year, followed with five points (2+3) and Jamie Lincoln (2+2).
“It’s definitely good to be 2-0,” Smith said. “We went in a hole last year, definitely a better vibe than last year.”
The Stealth led from the opening seconds and never relinquished it, beginning on a power play goal just seconds into the first quarter by Ratcliff. Washington pocketed five total goals in the opening eight minutes of play, chasing Colorado goaltender Chris Levis from net in the process.
The Mammoth would spend most of the half cutting into a large Stealth lead, including tying the game briefly at 6-6 before ending the second quarter down 10-8 and on an optimistic note. But a flat third quarter would result in Washington’s largest lead of the night, scoring six and holding the Mammoth to none. The margin would be too much for Colorado to overcome in the final frame, despite scoring six goals in the fourth.
Nick Patterson played phenomenal in net in his first start in a Washington uniform, making 42 of 55 saves on the night.
“We know Nick hasn’t played for a year in the league," Hall said. "But we have a ton of confidence in his goaltending ability. He earned his spot tonight to start and he was great."
Washington dominated several elements of the game, including the faceoff circle (26-for-32) and the loose ball game. The Stealth will play at home against the Edmonton Rush on Sunday, Jan. 20 at Comcast Arena.
Meanwhile, Colorado will regroup during the week before traveling to Calgary to face the Roughnecks on Saturday, Jan. 19 at Scotiabank Saddledome.