The Vancouver Stealth (1-1) earned their first win of the season by beating the Saskatchewan Rush (1-1) 13-11 before a crowd of 9,431 on Friday night at SaskTel Centre. It marked the first-ever home game for the Saskatchewan franchise. Coming into the game, the Rush were riding a six-game winning streak against the Stealth in the season series. Eric Penney started in net for Vancouver, while Aaron Bold played for the Rush.
The Stealth got off to a good start with Logan Schuss scoring his first of the season just before the five minute mark with a perfect bounce shot that beat Bold. After Rhys Duch made it a 2-0 game, rookie Jordan Durston put away his first career NLL goal in his first ever game. Durston stole the ball away from Rubisch deep in the Rush zone, and while diving across the crease, fired it past the right shoulder of Bold. Saskatchewan got their offense going by getting consecutive goals from Curtis Knight and Robert Church to cut the deficit to one. The Stealth would respond immediately with markers from Corey Small and Durston to take a 5-2 lead into the second quarter.
“I just wanted to have fun out there in my first game. To see that first one go in was an amazing feeling. Everything happened so fast and was just happy to see it go in past Bold. It will be a moment I will never forget,” said Durston.
The Rush opened up the second frame with back to back goals from Zack Greer and Knight to get to within one, but Joel McCready restored the two goal advantage with a breakaway goal at the 3:04 mark. After that, the Rush began to take the game over. The reigning champs scored five out of the next six goals in the quarter including the last four to grab a 9-7 lead at half-time.
In the third, both goaltenders were solid only allowing both teams to score twice. Duch and Small had the two for the Stealth, while Corbeil and Jeff Cornwall had the pair for the Rush.
The Stealth would save their best quarter for last. Corey Small broke out in a big way, while Penney shut the door completely in between the pipes. Small was able to score three straight goals in a span of just under four minutes and gave his team a one goal lead with 5:59 to play. The defense did a great job in front of Penney the rest of the way and McCready iced the game with an empty net tally with six seconds left in the game.
“We worked as a team the entire game and it paid off. It was nice to see us battle back in the second half and that is because we stuck to our system. The defense did a great job of not letting them get over the top in that fourth quarter and made it easier on me to make the stops,” said Penney.
The second year goaltender picked up his second career win and first of the season, while Bold was charged with the loss. Small finished the night with 5 goals and 1 assist, while Duch collected 2 goals and 3 assists.
The Stealth now move to 1-1 on the 2016 NLL campaign and host the Colorado Mammoth on Saturday, January 23 at the Langley Events Centre.
Story by Brandon Astle for StealthLAX.com.