Second half struggles costly for Stealth

Chris O’Dougherty (#24) and his Vancouver Stealth teammates held the league-leading Edmonton Rush to just nine goals, but fell short 9-8 on Saturday night at the Langley Events Centre. - Alyssa O
Chris O’Dougherty (#24) and his Vancouver Stealth teammates held the league-leading Edmonton Rush to just nine goals, but fell short 9-8 on Saturday night at the Langley Events Centre.
— image credit: Alyssa O'Dell/Langley Times

Two days after a tough loss to the top team in the National Lacrosse League, and the defeat still stung.

“In an 18-game schedule, these are the kind of games that can come back and haunt you at the end of the season,” said Vancouver Stealth head coach Chris Hall.

“We have talked about that ad nauseam, about focusing on not giving away games because they are awfully hard to make up.

“The lesson we have to take is you have to play all night long.”

The Stealth (2-3) led the Edmonton (4-0) Rush 7-2 at halftime of Saturday night’s NLL contest at the Langley Events Centre. But the final 30 minutes saw the script flipped as it was the Rush scoring seven unanswered goals to take a 9-7 lead.

Rhys Duch cut the lead to 9-8 with a minute to play but the Stealth could not net the equalizer.

The loss wasted a 49-save effort from Vancouver goaltender Tyler Richards, including a phenomenal diving stop at the end of the first half, robbing an Edmonton player of a sure goal.

Duch finished with three goals and two assists and Lewis Ratcliff with two goals and three assists both had five-point games to lead the Stealth.

Cliff Smith, Ilija Gajic and Brett Hickey had the other goals.

The Rush were led by Curtis Knight and Mark Matthews, who each had two goals and three assists.

Brodie MacDonald — who spends his summers tending goal at the LEC for the Langley Thunder — replaced Aaron Bold early in the second quarter and picked up the win, stopping 23 of the 27 shots he faced.

The final shots on goal were 58-30 in favour of Edmonton.

The Rush entered the game averaging a league-high 15 goals per game and Hall his team got away from its game plan in the second plan.

“In the first half, our preparation and our execution of our game plan was exactly how we wanted,” Hall said.

“We talked about not getting away from what was successful for us (and) we got away from our game plan on defence and the offence stopped doing what was successful and next thing you know, they took control.”

Hall said the team needs to learn that a momentarily lapse in focus can be the moment a game’s momentum swings the other way.

The Stealth took seven minutes of offensive penalties in the third quarter, and while it only resulted in one power play goal allowed, it did alter the game’s course.

Things don’t get any easier for the Stealth as they head east for a pair of road games Friday in Toronto against the Rock (1-2) and Saturday in Philadelphia versus the Wings (2-3).

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