The Vancouver Stealth (2-6) tasted revenge Friday night in Denver as they defeated the Colorado Mammoth (4-6) 19-9 in front of a stunned 15,023 fans in attendance, and split the regular season series with their West Division foes.
Three runners netted hat tricks in the game for the Stealth, including Brett Bucktooth who also had a career-high 12 points (6+6) with a "sock trick" by scoring six goals on just eight shots.
"Bucktooth was obviously phenomenal tonight," said Stealth head coach Chris Hall. "He played well last week too but we were without (Rhys Duch) and we finally had our captain (Kyle Sorensen) back on defense and he's our leader back there.”
Duch, who missed last game serving a one-game suspension, was brilliant as well with 11 points (4+7) on the night while teammate Cliff Smith added eight points (3+5).
“It’s really one of the first times all year we’ve had pretty much our offense intact from our championship game last year. It was great to finally see us finally break out,” Hall said. "We had our backs against the wall a little bit so it was time to see what we were made of."
Duch missed last game versus Colorado due to suspension, but his return to the lineup paid off according to fellow shooter Bucktooth.
“It was great to have Duch back in the lineup,” Bucktooth commented. “With him being on the floor, it opens up a lot of things for the rest of the players because he’s so dangerous. We really tried to move the ball around, guys found open spaces and took their good shots…it’s easy to rack up the assists when guys are getting good shots.”
The win comes just six days after a close game at Langley Events Centre against Mammoth. Tonight was the fourth meeting in six weeks between the two clubs, as Vancouver snaps a five-game losing streak and breaks Colorado’s three-game winning streak. The previous three games between the two were decided by a lone goal, but certainly was not the case in round four.
“Offensively we were bad, power play was bad, goaltending wasn’t great, our defense gave up too many easy goals,” Mammoth head coach Bob Hamley said. “So it was a total team loss, we’re going to win as a team, lose as a team. We just weren’t ready on either side of the ball.”
The Stealth lit up the scoreboard early and never looked back as they scored four goals in the opening 5:30 of the contest, after previously recording one goal the entire first half in last weekend’s game. Colorado continued to struggle early defensively, finding themselves in a 9-1 hole after the first quarter.
The home team would tally three to Vancouver’s four in the second frame to make it 13-4 at the half. After exchanging two goals apiece in the third, the Mammoth netted three quick scores, but was not enough to overcome the large deficit.
Hamley put it simple: the team was a deer in the headlights.
“They were ready,” he added. “We talked about it all week that they we’re desperate. They’re going to come in here with everything they’ve got, and we had to respond and play the same way…now we’re 4-6 and now we’re the desperate guy, and we have to refresh, take this week off, get ready for Rochester, prepare hard and respond with a good effort here at home.”
Vancouver dominated nearly every aspect of Friday’s game, including special teams where they were 4-5 on the power play in addition to a pair of shorthanded goals.
Tyler Richards finished the night with 39 saves on 48 shots for Vancouver. Tye Belanger appeared in relief for Dillon Ward, finishing the game with 20 saves on 33 shots.
The Mammoth have a bye week in Week 9 before hosting the Knighthawks in their 100th home game in Denver. Vancouver meanwhile will continue a three-game road trip as they travel to Calgary to face the Roughnecks tomorrow night on Saturday.
Three Stars of the Game as selected by the media:
1) Brett Bucktooth
2) Rhys Duch
3) Drew Westervelt