The Washington Stealth (3-1) avenged last weekend’s home loss with a 12-10 road win over the Edmonton Rush (1-2) at Rexall Place on Friday night.
The Stealth scored three goals in 53 seconds, their second consecutive week with a flurry of three quick goals, to take a 9-7 lead into the fourth quarter, marking their first lead of the game as they shut the Rush out in the third quarter.
“At about 10-7, we had the game under a reasonable amount of control,” said Stealth goaltender Tyler Richards, who returned to action after being sidelined for the past two games. “At that point, we started to make good decisions with the ball."
Edmonton pulled within 11-9 on a power play goal with 2:45 left in the game before calling timeout with 36 seconds left. After a Washington timeout and turnover, Corey Small scored with 8.3 left to cut the lead to 11-10. But it wasn’t enough, as Stealth captain Kyle Sorensen scored an empty net goal to secure the win.
“It’s a solid confidence builder,” said Stealth head coach Chris Hall. “Getting a front-end win on the road from a team that blew us out at home last week is a confidence builder. We can go into Minnesota (Saturday) with our heads higher.”
After being held off the scoresheet last week, Lewis Ratcliff recorded a hat trick with four points (3+1) for the Stealth while Rhys Duch (2+2) and Cliff Smith (1+4) contributed offensively as well.
“We just did a better job on dictating to them what we were going to do and getting to the net,” Ratcliff said. “Last week, we got pushed around and this week we were able to do what we needed. Edmonton is a really good team with a tough defense, but we still have to come to play every night.”
Rush rookie Mark Matthews registered a team-high five points (1+4) and Small finished with three goals and four points (3+1).
The back-and-forth scoring battle was kicked off by Washington's rookie Justin Salt, who opened the scoring night 6:50 into the first quarter for his first NLL goal. The Rush’s Corey Small scored the first of his three hat-trick goals less than two minutes later before captain Jimmy Quinlan slipped in Edmonton's second goal nearly 10 minutes into the first.
Rush rookie Mike Burke scored his first NLL goal at 10:55. Washington responded with Rhys Duch scoring his first of two goals two minutes later. The first quarter ended with the Rush missing an empty netter, as the Stealth pulled their goalie in an attempt to close the one-goal gap.
The second quarter saw three unanswered goals by the Rush as Mark Matthews, Jarrett Davis, and Alex Turner each scored. Washington came back with three of their own goals, including rookie Mitch McMichael’s highlight-reel between-the-legs goal with his back to the goalie to cut the Rush lead to 6-3. The play made SportsCenter's Top 10 on ESPN.
The final Washington goal of the period was the straw that broke the frustrated team's back as defenseman Kyle Rubisch was given a five-minute major for an illegal crosscheck, along with a five-minute major for fighting, resulting in the game misconduct that got him ejected from the game.
With Washington serving two penalties, Small scored his second of the night on the power play. Immediately following his hard-earned goal, Stealth #27 Cliff Smith put one past Rush goaltender Aaron Bold, leaving the score 7-6 for the Rush at halftime.
"I think we let them rattle our cage a little bit in the first half,” Small said. “It's tough, you beat a team 18-10, and you know they're gonna come at you harder than they did last game.”
Six minutes into the 3rd quarter, the Stealth score three seemingly uninterrupted goals. The score remained 9-7 Washington heading into the final quarter of the tightly-contested game.
"You take the foot off the gas for a minute,” Keenan said. “Next thing you know, you're losing.”
That proved true for the Rush, and even with Corey Small scoring his third goal for a hat trick, and his sixth of the season, it was just not enough to win.
With two minutes left in the game, the Rush had a two- goal gap to fill, and needed to work hard against the equally eager Stealth. The Rush called a time out with 36 seconds left, to regroup and try to strategize for the remaining portion of the game.
Edmonton's goalie did not return to the net and the Rush hoped the extra man in play would work to their advantage. Washington, keeping with their theme of the game, followed the Rush's lead and called their first timeout with 22 seconds remaining.
Stealth captain Kyle Sorensen scored on the Rush empty net with 5 seconds remaining, and the game ended 12-10 for the Washington Stealth.
The Rush hope to come out with a win next weekend, with the first Battle of Alberta being played in Edmonton on Saturday, Feb. 2 against the Calgary Roughnecks. The Stealth travel to Minnesota to take on the Swarm tomorrow night at 8 p.m. ET at Xcel Energy Center.
“We sat back and thought it was gonna be another cakewalk for us,” Small said. “And clearly it isn't. Every team in the league is good. There are no bad teams."