Lopsided results for Stealth on road trip
One night after putting on a dominant offensive display to snap a five-game losing streak, the Vancouver Stealth were unable to build off of that success.
The Stealth scored a season-high in goals in a 19-9 rout of the host Colorado Mammoth on Friday night at Denver’s Pepsi Center. But playing the next night in Calgary at the Scotiabank Saddledome, the roles were reversed and it was Vancouver getting routed by 20-9 score.
The results leave the Stealth with a 3-7 record, one game back of the 4-6 Mammoth for the final playoff spot in the National Lacrosse League’s West division.
“Obviously it is a tough turnaround when you are playing back-to-backs on the road,” said Stealth coach Chris Hall.
The team left Denver on Saturday morning and didn’t arrive at their hotel in Calgary until an hour before the bus left for the arena.
“We played a tough, emotional game against the Mammoth, a game we had to win virtually,” he said.
And the Stealth received some bad news shortly before game time as captain Kyle Sorenson was ruled because of injury.
Even still, Vancouver was in the game in the first half, trailing 7-5. But after Vancouver missed on a glorious scoring chance of their own, Calgary benefited from a bad bounce to score before the buzzer to take an 8-5 lead.
“It was a momentum-shifting goal and pretty deflating for us,” Hall admitted.
The Roughnecks then scored three goals in a 27-second span early in the third quarter and it was game, set, match.
“The wheels came off and there was not much we could do to stem the tide,” Hall said.
“That is still no excuse to get beat by 11 goals. You have to find a way to hang in.”
Calgary led 14-7 after the third quarter and then tacked on six more in the fourth to win 20-9.
One bright spot over the weekend was the play of Brett Bucktooth for the Stealth.
Bucktooth returned the previous weekend after off-season sports hernia surgery and he was dominant against Colorado, scoring six goals and setting up six others. He scored on six of his nine shots.
He combined with Rhys Duch (four goals, seven assists) for a whopping 23 points.
Cliff Smith (three goals, five assists) and Tyler Digby (one goal, five assists) also had big games.
Bucktooth added another three goals and one assist in the loss while Lewis Ratcliff had two goals and a helper.
Bucktooth, who was named the league’s first star of the week, is up to sixth in team scoring with 18 points in three games.
“Friday night was great because it was probably the first time in the season we had pretty much a full lineup of all our guns available and we had a great performance,” Hall said.
“We have been waiting a long time for Brett to get back in our lineup. He is a calming influence on our offence …. and really adds another dimension on our right-side with Digby and Duch.”
The team now gets a much-needed break as they are off until March 8 when they visit the undefeated Edmonton Rush (7-0).
That is followed by five home dates at the Langley Events Centre in their final seven games, and just one set of back-to-back games.
“We probably need a break right now,” Hall said.
“We are going to have to work hard to give ourselves a shot to get into the playoffs here.
“It is not going to be easy, but we have a shot.”