It was a fourth quarter to forget for a second week in a row.
The Vancouver Stealth had cut the Buffalo Bandits lead to one goal early in the fourth quarter. But instead of being able to build off that, the Stealth quickly found themselves facing a six-goal deficit after Buffalo scored five times in less than four minutes.
The end result was a 17-10 loss at Buffalo’s First Niagara Center on Friday night in National Lacrosse League action.
The Stealth — losers of five straight — now sit at 3-9, three and a half games behind Calgary (6-8) for the third place in the NLL West Division.
“We made some pretty glaring mistakes early in the fourth quarter and that really put the game out of reach,” said Stealth coach Jamie Batley.
He had just finished watching the game tape.
“It is very frustrating because the mistakes we are making are mental errors; it is not something we are doing strategically.”
The Stealth opened the scoring but were down 3-2 after one quarter. Buffalo got the only two goals of the second period to lead 5-2 at the half.
Things opened up in the third quarter with Vancouver cutting the lead to 9-7 after three quarters but after getting within a goal 35 seconds into the fourth, that would be as close as the Stealth would get.
For the second straight game, Rhys Duch had a huge game with six goals and seven points. Corey Small chipped in with two goals and three assists while Keegan Bal had four helpers. Joel McCready and Thomas Hoggarth had one goal apiece.
Dhane Smith torched the Stealth with six goals and six assists for Buffalo.
Buffalo had the shot advantage at 59-54 with Tyler Richards making 42 saves in the losing effort. The Bandits also won the loose ball battle, 83-68, and won 19 of the 31 face-offs.
Jeff Moleski (10 loose balls) and Duch (nine loose balls) led the way for the Stealth in that department.
The week before, Vancouver trailed 16-15 after three quarters before surrendering seven straight goals to lose 24-16 to the Saskatchewan Rush.
And Batley said the team has to remain focused on the positives.
“We played two of the best teams and we kept with them for three quarters,” he said about the Rush — who are tied for first place in the West at 9-3 — and the East-Division leading Bandits (8-4).
“There is lots of good to take out of it. We just have to reinforce it.”
He liked his team’s offence the past two games, but admitted they left too many goals off the board against Buffalo, referencing five goal posts they hit and twice failing to score with no one between them and the Bandits goalie.
“Coming in, changing some systems and changing some of the culture has helped,” Batley added.
“Moving forward, our team has to realize we have a good team and if we play together and don’t make mental errors, that we are going to be successful. I think it is just a matter of time until that happens.”
The Stealth will look to snap their losing skid when they host the Toronto Rock (3-9) on Saturday at the Langley Events Centre. Game time is 7 p.m.
And a win could do wonders as Vancouver tries to salvage its season.
“Getting that one win is going to help everybody,” Batley said. “We just have to learn from our mistakes.”