Stealth stop Mammoth in OT, but fall to Roughnecks

Vancouver Stealth
Vancouver Stealth's Cliff Smith breaks in on Colorado Mammoth goaltender Dillon Ward during National Lacrosse League action at the Langley Events Centre on Jan. 17. Smith would force overtime with a late goal and Lewis Ratcliff netted the winner in sudden-death overtime for a 14-13 Stealth victory.
— image credit: Gary Ahuja/Langley Times

With the National Lacrosse League season nearing the quarter mark, Vancouver Stealth head coach Chris Hall is OK with a 2-2 start.

“We are hurting a bit on the back end with the losses of (Kyle) Sorenson and (Jeff) Moleski, so if  you look at 2-2 … it’s acceptable,” the coach said on Monday morning.

“We have suffered a couple of injuries that are hurting us in the back end; we are still finding our way in terms of personnel.”

Hall was referring to the loss of captain Kyle Sorenson — who was placed on the 21-day injured reserve late last week — and then Jeff Moleski, who was lost at halftime of Saturday’s 15-12 defeat to the Calgary Roughnecks at Calgary’s Scotiabank Saddledome.

The Stealth also played the night before, coming from behind to win 14-13 over the Colorado Mammoth at the Langley Events Centre.

Cliff Smith forced overtime with less than a minute to play and Lewis Ratcliff buried the winner 2:18 into sudden-death overtime.

“I would probably say we escaped on Friday night with a win in a hard-fought game,” Hall said.

“We got behind the eight-ball early in the game and had to sort of scratch and claw all night long to keep ourselves in the game.”

“It was a long tough game that was both emotionally draining and physically draining on us,” Hall added.

The Stealth travelled to Calgary on the Saturday morning and jumped out to a 2-0 lead three minutes in.

The teams were tied at two after one quarter and Calgary led 5-4 at the half and 10-9 after three quarters.

The Stealth did tie the game 31 seconds into the fourth quarter but the Roughnecks scored six of the final eight goals to win 15-12.

A big difference in the game was the power play as Calgary scored on six of their nine chances while the Stealth netted just a pair on seven chances.

“We kept fighting back, but every time we did, we ended up in the penalty box which was unfortunate,” Hall said.

“(Dane) Dobbie kind of ran wild on us in the fourth quarter and he also drew a lot of penalties.”

Dobbie scored three times in the fourth and finished with five goals and one assist.

Hall said there were a couple of goals the team felt should not have counted.

“We got a couple of goals (against) where we felt he was out the gate way too soon and we didn’t the call,” he said. “Those are the things that sometimes go your way and other times, they don’t.

“Those are the big breaks of the game and we didn’t get a break. But I thought we played well.”

The Stealth were led by Rhys Duch’s three goals and two assists in the losing effort.

In Friday’s victory, Duch also led the team with two goals and six assists. Ratcliff added a pair of goals and six helpers.

On his overtime winner — which came shortly after Colorado had a goal waved off because of a crease violation — Ratcliff scooped up a loose ball, and with the shot clock winding down, whipped a shot off the far post and just in. The goal also required a review as it came out of the net very quickly.

It was Vancouver’s first lead of the night and came after they trailed 3-0 five minutes in.

“Ninety per cent of the games in this league are one-goal games so you know it’s going to be a tight one regardless if you are down three in the beginning,” Ratcliff said following the victory.

“We just had to try and battle back and take the chances when you get them.”

Ratcliff also surpassed the 900-point plateau in his 11-year NLL career in that game.

The Stealth will look to return to the win column on Saturday (7 p.m.) as they host the 3-0 Edmonton Rush at the Langley Events Centre.

The Stealth are 2-0 on their home floor.

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