January 25, 2013

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Stealth Fend Off Edmonton, Increase Lead in West

from press release

EVERETT, Wash.
– The Washington Stealth secured their third win of the NLL season holding off a late Edmonton rally to down the Rush 12-10, Friday night before 5,416 at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alberta.

With the win and a 3-1 record, the Stealth increased their lead in the NLL West to a full game over second-place Colorado, which dropped its game with Calgary 19-12.

"It's a solid confidence builder," said Stealth Coach Chris Hall. "Getting a front-end win on the road from a team that blew us out at home last week is a confidence builder. We can go into Minnesota (Saturday) with our heads higher."

Overcoming a four-goal deficit with 11:08 remaining in the second quarter, the Stealth neutralized Edmonton's transition game, which produced seven goals against the Stealth last Sunday, to work their way back into the game.

"We made some adjustments on (handling their transition game) during the week," said Hall. "Tonight we executed well. With a little strategy, more smarts and better effort we were able to do a better job in not giving up those transition goals."

Beginning with a Mitch McMichael score at 5:27 of the second, the Stealth went on to score the next three straight and eight of the next nine goals to take a 10-7 lead on a Lewis Ratcliff goal with 12:46 remaining in the fourth quarter.

For the Stealth, Ratcliff's goal, which completed a hat trick, along with an assist for four points, on the night for the 6-1, 200-pound left hander, was the assurance the Stealth needed to gain control of an Edmonton squad that has had their way with the Stealth for the last year.

"At about 10-7 we had the game under a reasonable amount of control," said Stealth goaltender Tyler Richards who saw his first start since being sidelined for the past two games. "At that point we started to make good decisions with the ball," he said.

Despite the Stealth holding Edmonton scoreless in the third and controlling most of the fourth, the Rush mounted a late fourth-quarter rally scoring three of the next five goals, but was unable to overcome a rejuvenated Stealth offense.

In the end, Stealth Captain Kyle Sorensen sealed the victory with 5.1 seconds remaining to ice the game at 12-10.

In the first, the contest went an unusual six minutes and fifty seconds without a score, before the Stealth's Justin Salt scored his first goal as a member of the Stealth to make it 1-0.

But it was Stealth goaltender Tyler Richards that built the confidence necessary to pull out a win in the first game of the weekend set in Edmonton and Minnesota.

"T-Rich was huge in the first," said Hall on his number one goaltender's performance facing16 Edmonton shots in the first quarter. 'When you're getting outshot that bad, if goaltender can weather the storm, it gives us a chance to figure out our defense. Having our number one goalie back was a big boost for us."

Coming up with save after save early in the contest, appeared to put Richards in a rhythm and build confidence for the rest of his squad.

"It's always good to win the first one, but more importantly for us it's important to rebound from the last game and set our self up for the second game (tomorrow in Minnesota)," said Richards who went on the face 47 shots while his team dealt 44 of its own on the Rush. "That's a really nice way to get back into the groove."

In the second, with the Stealth on their heals, Edmonton's Mark Mathews appeared to pick up where he left off last Sunday, scoring the first of a three-goal run by the Rush over the next two minutes. But in the end, despite tallying four assists the rookie managed just one score on the night.

But it was the Stealth who regained momentum on a Mitch McMichael goal with 5:27 remaining in the half to make narrow the gap to three goals at 6-3 and launch the Stealth's come-back.

With nine minutes remaining in the third, the Stealth's Athan Iannucci knotted the game at 7-7 and Washington never looked back.

A total of nine Stealth players found the net with Lewis Ratcliff leading the way with three goals and an assist for four points.

In the face-off battle, the Stealth had the edge giving the Washington squad early control in its offensive execution. Bob Snider, who led the squad with 10 loose ball grabs, won 12 of 21 faceoffs, while Edmonton's Jeremy Thompson managed just seven.

"We just did a better job on dictating to them what we were going to do and getting to the net," said Ratcliff. "Last week we got pushed around and this week we were able to do what we needed," he said. "Edmonton is a really good team with a tough defense, but we still have to come to play every night."

The Stealth is in action again tomorrow night, Saturday, Jan. 26 as they take on West Division rival Minnesota at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. Game time is 5 p.m. PT (7 p.m. MT).


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