Down a pair of goals after the opening quarter, the Vancouver Stealth didn’t panic. Instead, the team scored six of the next eight goals and never looked back in winning their second straight National Lacrosse League game to improve to 3-3 on the season. The Stealth defeated the visiting Calgary Roughnecks 13-9 on Saturday night at Langley Events Centre. The loss dropped Calgary to 0-6 on the season.
“You are frustrated, but is important not to let the frustration affect you in a negative way,” said the Stealth’s Rhys Duch, the game’s first star with four goals and two assists. “We were getting chances, but Frankie (Scigliano) was having a heck of a quarter. It was just a matter of burying your shots and stick with the process and trust they are going to go in eventually.”
“That is two games in a row we have really focused on moving our feet and moving the ball,” Duch added. “That made a bid difference for our game.”
Trailing 3-1, Tyler Garrison and Cliff Smith scored 18 seconds apart. And Duch and Tyler Digby then added power-play goals 19 seconds apart giving the Stealth four goals in an 83-second span. Vancouver never trailed again as they took a 6-4 lead into the locker room at the half.
The sixth goal came with 0.6 seconds to go as Digby just beat the buzzer.
“That was big, but it just happened to be me,” said Digby, who finished with two goals and three assists. “Any other guy would have done the same (in that situation).”
For the Roughnecks, it was a frustrating game.
After a first quarter where they kept the Stealth at bay, Calgary gave up two power-play goals, two transition goals, another goal off a broken play following a faceoff and then a six-on-five goal as time was winding down in the half.
“We made a couple of errors and they ended up in the back of our net,” said Calgary coach Curt Malawsky.
Malawsky thought his team played relatively well, especially considering the fact his team was shorthanded eight times in the half while the Stealth only had four infractions.
And for the game, Calgary was on the penalty kill 14 times and Vancouver nine times.
Twice in the second half, the Roughnecks would pull to within a goal, but both times, Vancouver capitalized on Calgary mistakes.
The first was on bad gap-control, with Corey Small to score from long range and then second was a missed assignment which allowed Garrison walk in and score.
Both teams finished with four power-play goals as the Roughnecks were 4-for-9 and the Stealth 4-for-14.
“The officiating, at times was very inconsistent tonight,” Malawsky said. “I don’t think we have had 14 penalties against us in a long, long time.”
“I thought there were key times in the game when there was a call one way where it was a penalty and then the other way it wasn’t,” he added, referencing one of his players getting called for a dive, but a Stealth player getting away with a flop on another play.
“We put a stick on somebody or a free hand off and get a penalty and … then guys are (mugging) (Curtis) Dickson in front of the crease and there is no call,” Malawsky said. “I know the game is fast and the officials are doing the best they can (but) you want to be able to make your own breaks, you don’t want people to try and take your breaks away from you and it felt like that tonight.”
Stealth coach Dan Perreault was pleased his team matched Calgary’s intensity and stuck with their own game plan, despite falling behind.
“Our defense and our goaltending did very well tonight,” Perreault said. “That is a tough team to hold to single digits.”
Small also had a big game for the Stealth with a goal and four assists, while Johnny Powless also had four assists. Garrison (2+0), Cliff Smith (1+1), Curtis Hodgson (1+1) and Joel McCready (1+0) also found the back of the net for Vancouver.
Calgary was led by Shawn Evans (2+3), who recorded his 700th career NLL point in the game, along with Curtis Dickson (2-2) and Dane Dobbie (1+3).
Perreault said he can see the confidence building in his team, which is one win away from matching last season’s total of four.
“It is nice when they work hard and they are rewarded,” he said. “It is a fairly new group this year, so when you win, they believe in each other, believe in the system.”
Duch said it is nice to reward the home fans with some victories, especially after a tough 2014.
“They are sticking with us,” he said. “It was a frustrating season last year, for us and for them, and we are showing them that we are a better team.”
The two teams will complete their home-and-home series on Feb. 21 this time in Calgary at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
Three Stars of the Game as selected by the media:
1) Rhys Duch
2) Corey Small
3) Curtis Dickson