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Bird strike! Stealth down Wings, 16-10

03/09/2013, 10:45pm EST
By NLL.com

Duch and Ratcliff help Washington fly by Philadelphia

The Washington Stealth (7-4) widened their lead atop the West Division and snapped a three-game winning streak by the Philadelphia Wings (5-4) with a 16-10 road win at Wells Fargo Center on Saturday night.

Stealth captain Kyle Sorensen opened the scoring 1:18 into the game before Washington used a three-goal in the last 5:04 of the first quarter for a 4-2 lead after 15 minutes of play.

The Stealth scored six of the next seven goals, including forward Lewis Ratcliff’s third of the night and 400th career goal, before Dean Hill scored a last-second goal to take a commanding 10-3 lead into halftime.

“We just broke down in that second quarter," said Wings general manager and head coach Johnny Mouradian. "We had a decent second half, but we’ve got to get goals out of guys that have to score goals. That’s the bottom line.”

The two teams both scored three goals in the third quarter as Washington led 13-6 entering the fourth. After a five-minute major penalty on the Stealth, Paul Rabil converted on the power play to pull the Wings within 14-9, Stealth forward Rhys Duch scored a shorthanded goal to regain the six-goal lead. Once Drew Westervelt scored on the same man advantage, Duch again scored a man-down goal with 1:50 left to make it 16-10.

38 seconds later, tempers flared as players from the two teams fought and mixed it up with game misconducts and major penalties being assessed to both clubs. The teams finished with a combined 93 penalty minutes, mostly due to the late-game fighting, something that didn't go over well with Mouradian.

“I think it’s a very classless act of a head coach in this league to send players out to start a brawl when they are up on goals," he said. "We didn’t want our players to go out there and shake hands afterwards. Anything could have happened. With a staff like that, I didn’t want our guys going out there, with how volatile they were.”

Wings forward Kevin Ross shared a similar sentiment about the fights.

“You could see it coming, I thought our guys responded really well," he said. "The guys they chose to pick fights with were two of our young guys. I thought that was a questionable call on the part of their coaching staff.”

Stealth goalie Tyler Richards continued his MVP-worthy play this season with 42 saves on 52 shots while Wings netminder Brandon Miller had 42 stops on 58 shots in the loss.

“We didn’t give [Miller] much help," Mouradian said. "They had a lot of clear, wide open shots. We have to count on our 'D' to protect him. It’s the 'D' that helps Miller, but with the quick transition shots they had, it made things easy. By taking quick shots, they had more opportunities."

Duch finished with a game-high eight points (5+3), Ratcliff had seven points (4+3) and rookie Justin Salt scored twice for Washington. Bob snider had a game-high 19 loose balls and went 25-for-29 (86%) on faceoffs.

Rabil and recent Wings addition Kyle Sweeney both scored twice as the only Philadelphia players with a multi-goal game. Kevin Crowley (0+4) and Westervelt (1+3) each had a team-high four points. Wings captain Brodie Merrill did not play.

With his 400th career goal, Ratcliff became just the seventh player in NLL history to accomplish the feat and just the fifth active player in the 400-goal club behind John Tavares, John Grant, Jr., Colin Doyle and Shawn Williams.

Dave Walls contributed to this report for NLL.com.

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