Five goals in a six-minute span was too much for the Vancouver Stealth to overcome.
The Stealth trailed 10-9 to the visiting Georgia Swarm after three quarters on Saturday night, but the defending National Lacrosse League champions ran away with the contest at the Langley Events Centre, defeating the Stealth 16-12.
Coupled with Vancouver’s 14-13 last-minute loss the night before in Denver to the Colorado Mammoth, and the Stealth now sit at 1-6 on the season.
“I think we played with a lot of heart, I think we battled. The first game we truly believed we deserved the win. It came down to one or two mental mistakes,” said Stealth captain Matt Beers.
“The heart is there, we just have to clean it up.”
Saturday’s game saw Georgia take a 5-1 lead before Vancouver cut the deficit to 5-3 after 15 minutes. The Stealth would pull within a goal, 8-7 at the half, and then tie the score at nine with successive goals from James Rahe and Joel McCready late in the third.
However, Lyle Thompson put Georgia ahead for good just 24 seconds later and the Swarm went on a 5-0 run over a 6:11 span in the fourth quarter and the Stealth could not recover.
Vancouver was coming off a bye weekend but they had won their previous game, 11-10 over Buffalo in overtime earlier this month.
“I thought our guys had a gutsy weekend. We played three pretty good games — I know we came out on the losing end of two of those — but I think we have had three good games after four games we didn’t play great,” said Vancouver head coach and assistant general manager Jamie Batley.
“We are not getting wins but our team is playing well. We thought we deserved the win last night. But we are going in the right direction as a team.”
Eric Penney seems to have solidified the goaltending, going from the practice squad the first four weeks to starting the last three games. He saved 43 of the 58 shots he faced on Saturday night, including 14 of 16 in the third quarter alone.
Logan Schuss and McCready both missed Friday’s game but each had a hat trick on Saturday with Schuss finishing with eight points and McCready with five. Corey Small also had a three goal, five-point game while Rhys Duch (one goal, four assists), Rahe (two goals, one assist) and Tony Malcom (three assists) also had multi-point games.
The Swarm were led by Shayne Jackson’s two goals and seven assists, Randy Staats’ four goals and one assist, Lyle Thompson’s three goals and three assists and Kiel Matisz’ five assists.
Things don’t get much easier for the Stealth as they face the first-place Saskatchewan Rush (5-1) first in Saskatoon on Feb. 3 and then back at the LEC on Feb. 10.
Beers said the mood of the team is fine.
‘We are a half game out of a playoff spot, that is light enough for us right now,” he said when asked if the team is able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
He also said the team’s younger players are gaining valuable experience as they are pressed into bigger than expected roles with the team dealing with a rash of injuries, especially to their defence.
He singled out rookie Cody Teichroeb in particular. Teichroeb had a huge fight to spark his team during their only win, when they were trailing 3-o to Buffalo early in that contest on Jan. 13.
“It is great to see those guys step up and then when we have a few of our veterans get healthy and come back, I really think we have a winning team here,” Beers said. “We just have to get bodies back and execute better.”