Despite losing a six-goal fourth-quarter lead, the Washington Stealth (5-4) took control of first place in the West Division standings with a 16-14 home win over the Calgary Roughnecks (5-4) at Comcast Arena on Saturday night.
“We did such a great job to build a lead we played solidly through the whole stretch and then we had a little bit of a meltdown there,” said Stealth head coach Chris Hall. “It only takes less than a minute of losing focus and you find yourself in big trouble in this league. But we played great lacrosse right up until that point.”
Stealth forward Rhys Duch finished with a game-high 10 points (3+7), which tied his career high, while Athan Iannucci (4+3) and Lewis Ratcliff (1+6) both contributed seven points.
“We focused a lot on keeping the ball moving and bodies moving,” Duch said. “We tend to fall into habits where the ball's moving and our feet aren’t so we focused on getting those two things together.”
Washington led 7-5 at halftime before outscoring Calgary 5-1 in the third quarter for a 12-6 lead after 45 minutes of play. However, the Roughnecks scored seven of the next eight goals to tie the game at 13-13 with 6:04 remaining.
Calgary's comeback began when Stealth goalie Tyler Richards went out to play the ball on a delayed penalty, Richards took a five-minute slashing major that he was forced to serve per league rules. Coming into replace Richards was backup netminder Nick Patterson, who struggled in relief by allowing five goals on just 11 shots.
“I let the emotions get the better of me for one second and it almost cost us the game,” Richards said. “Luckily our boys responded and we put together a few goals in the last five minutes.”
The Stealth responded with a three-goal scoring run to seal the game.
“We had momentum but it’s always tough to come from behind so you spend a lot of energy,” said Roughnecks head coach Curt Malawsky. “Then the other team gets one and it’s a bit deflating. But the big thing is we had a bad third quarter.”
The game featured two of the top faceoff specialists in the league in Calgary's Geoff Snider and Washington's Bob Snider. The brothers went head-to-head on the draw and older brother Geoff went 25-for-33 (76%) while Bob went just 7-for-28 (25%).
Washington's Richards made 45 saves on 54 shots while Calgary’s Mike Poulin made 33 saves on 46 shots.
The Roughnecks outshot the Stealth 64-49, including 26-11 in the fourth quarter, but came up just short in their comeback attempt despite scoring eight fourth-quarter goals, the most in a single quarter by an NLL team so far this season.
Calgary forward Jeff Shattler recorded six points (3+3), Dane Dobbie registered five points (2+3) while Curtis Dickson had four points (3+1) in the losing effort.