The Colorado Mammoth are unbeaten no more. The Vancouver Stealth took care of that, knocking off what was the National Lacrosse League’s lone remaining unbeaten team by a score of 16-13 at home on Saturday night at Langley Events Centre.
The Stealth were determined to make amends for their poor performance the week before, but after one quarter, the team trailed the Colorado Mammoth 3-1. But Vancouver scored the first five goals of the second quarter and never looked back.
The Stealth improved to 2-3 on the season while Colorado fell to 3-1. The Mammoth had won the week before in Denver 20-9.
“Don’t panic just because you are down a couple,” said Stealth goaltender Tyler Richards. “Lacrosse is a game of runs.”
“They worked hard all week; you are embarrassed last week and I think the boys put in the time and the effort,” said coach Dan Perreault.
“We were pretty focused.”
The teams entered the game as the highest-scoring team in the league — Colorado had 57 goals in three games while Vancouver had allowed a league-high 58 in four contests.
“We worked really hard in practice and identified some things we were doing wrong,” said Richards, who finished with 45 saves. “The guys gave me a good opportunity to see the ball and this was the result. I give all the credit to the defense. They kept the ball to the outside and when that happens, it is easier for me.”
The Stealth offense also got on track after the slow first quarter.
Corey Small led the team with two goals and six assists while Johnny Powless had four goals and six points. Tyler Digby (1+6) and Rhys Duch (2+5) had seven points apiece while Joel McCready (3+1) had six points.
Justin Salt chipped in with a pair while Tyler Hass and Brandon Clelland had one apiece. Clelland’s goal was his first NLL score.
Powless said the team’s success started from their defensive play. And on offense, they were moving the ball to create better scoring chances.
One week after being torched by the Mammoth’s duo of John Grant, Jr. and Adam Jones, the Stealth held the pair to a single goal between the two. Jones had one goal and three assists while Grant had six assists.
This marked the first time in their illustrious careers, the pair combined for one goal or fewer in a game they both suited up in.
“That is tough to see, but I am sure you won’t see that happen too often,” said Colorado coach Dan Stroup. “But we have more than two guys on the team and other guys have to step up and it didn’t happen (tonight).”
Drew Westervelt led the team with three goals and six points while Joey Cupido had a hat trick. Eli McLaughlin and Jackson Decker each had two goals and two assists.
The Mammoth outshot the Stealth 58-46.
“(Vancouver) made some adjustments and obviously we didn’t play as well (as last week),” Stroup said. “They pressured a lot more and we couldn’t handle it.”
Colorado controlled the faceoffs 22-11 but Vancouver did a great job winning the loose ball battle, 59-49. They also forced 39 Mammoth turnovers, while surrendering just 29 themselves.
“The guys showed up to play tonight and they were rewarded,” Perreault said. “We had possession of the ball a lot more, we valued the ball, we were smarter with the ball and defensively we talked more and communicated. And Tyler Richards was outstanding; he made some great saves.”
Stroup said the Stealth did a much better job of moving the ball on offense than the week before.
‘“Multiple passes and they really swung the ball well, that was a big part of it,” he said. “Overall, they played well and we didn’t but we get two weeks off now and have to come back fighting.”
Both teams are on a bye in NLL Week 6.
“We would have been in a tough spot going into the bye at 1-4,” Richards said. “You don’t want to say you are desperate at 1-3, but we knew the importance of this game.”
Three Stars of the Game as selected by the media:
1) Johnny Powless
2) Rhys Duch
3) Drew Westervelt
Story by Gary Ahuja (@VanStealthBeat) for NLL.com. Photo by Garrett James.