Stealth Come Out On Top In Battle For First Place

story and photo Bryce Keith Forbes

In a game between the two top teams of the Western Conference, it was only fitting that the game came down to the last minute of play.

When the final buzzer rang at the Saddledome on Saturday night, it was the Washington Stealth who held onto first place with a 12-11 victory over the Calgary Roughnecks. Despite overcoming deficits of 4-1 and 9-5, the Roughnecks, sporting the green jerseys, could not hold onto the lead in the dying minutes.

The Stealth opened up the scoring early with Jeff Zwyicki picking up a pair in the first five minutes of the game. A goal by Rhys Duch on the powerplay with three minutes left took the crowd right out of the game. However, 23 seconds later, the Tracey Kelusky show arrived when he fired a nice long shot top corner on goaltender Matt Roik, his first of six on the night, cutting the lead to two. But less then a minute later, Peter Morgan fired his first of the night in some four-on-four action.

The first ten minutes of the second quarter was all Roughnecks, with Kelusky picking up a natural hat trick. His third goal of the night was the most impressive, intercepting a clearing pass and depositing into the gaping cage. A goal by Kaleb Toth from the outside with six minutes left in the second gave the Riggers their first lead of the game.

The lead only lasted two minutes as goals by Duch and Luke Wiles gave the Stealth the 6-5 advantage heading into halftime.

The Stealth carried the momentum into the second half with former Roughneck Lewis Ratcliff bouncing in his first of the game 35 seconds in. A weird chain of events happened seven minutes later when Morgan tossed in his second of the night. Originally, it looked like the ball didn’t go in, with Roughnecks head coach Dave Pym pitching out the old, yellow challenge flag.

However instead of heading into the box to check out the goal, the ref gave the Roughnecks a bench minor for challenging something that wasn’t challengeable. (After the game, Pym admitted he made a mistake.) The fans could not understand the penalty and sent the boo birds out towards the officiating. The Stealth took complete advantage of the power play, with Cam Sedgwick scoring his first of the game. Two late markers by Dane Dobbie and Scott Ranger decreased the lead to two heading into the fourth and final frame.

Dobbie marked his second of the night and Kelusky picked up his fifth to tie it all up with five minutes left. The two teams split the next four goals to head into the final 120 seconds all equal at 11.
At the 1:22 mark, Miles stepped into the middle and fired a low shot, squeaking through the pads of goaltender Matt King, giving Miles a hat trick and the Stealth held on for the victory.

Both teams came into the game on different end of the momentum spectrum, with the Stealth in the midst of a three game losing streak, while the Roughnecks were riding high with four wins in a row.
The W gives the Stealth the season series against the Roughnecks, with the visiting teams winning in all three matchups.

Other Game Notes:

– In addition to his goal, Roughneck forward Josh Sanderson assisted on eight goals, driving up his season total to 64 points. He currently sits second in the NLL, two points behind Colin Doyle of the Toronto Rock, who has played two extra games.
– Special teams were key to success for the Stealth, who were 3 of 5 on the power play and scored another one shorthanded. On the other side, the Roughnecks were only able to manage one goal on six odd-man opportunities.
– The Roughnecks outshot the Stealth to a tune of 52-39.
– Officials tried to keep the benches under control with both teams picking up two bench minors each.

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