By Aaron Lommers Herald Writer
Before the opening faceoff, Washington Stealth defenseman Jeff Moleski and Calgary Roughnecks transition player Geoff Snider dropped the gloves and fought.
It was the first of seven first quarter fights. When it was all said and done, the Stealth lost their fourth of five games to start the 2012 season, 12-11. With plenty of extra-curricular activity, there was a lot for fans to take in, and under the surface maybe a few things that the Stealth can take as they move forward.
The Stealth players protected each other. I don’t know what the feud was about, but it was quite apparent that these two teams had an issue and they were going to attempt to solve it on the lacrosse floor with their fists. Nobody from the Stealth backed down. I’m not usually the type of person that condones fighting in sports, I think it takes away from the product. But in this case it was nice to see the Stealth players have each others’ backs.
Brett Bucktooth, who recorded his first hat-trick as a member of the Stealth talked after the game about being there for your teammate.
“Part of the game is being tough and sticking up for your teammates and yourself and I think we did that,” Bucktooth said. “Anytime someone challenges your manhood you just have to step up.”
When the game finally settled down in the second quarter and the two teams actually got to playing lacrosse, it seemed that the unity that they showed in the first quarter carried them as the game went on. Goalkeeper Tyler Richards had the best game of his career, recording a career-high 59 saves. Lewis Ratcliff had his best offensive game of the season scoring four goals and of course Bucktooth chippped in his three.
It was perhaps the most complete game the Stealth have played this season, even in defeat.
“The work-ethic was fantastic,” said Stealth assistant coach Art Webster, who is filling in for coach Chris Hall as he recovers from treatment for throat cancer. “We battled all the way through.”
Webster said that the early season losses haven’t been a result of the Stealth not working hard, but more so the team’s mental lapses.
“It’s not a case of us not working hard enough,” Webster said. “We work very hard. We have to work smarter.
Webster was referring to a late game penalty that allowed the Roughnecks to take a late advantage in the game.
Rhys Duch had a chance to tie the game for the Stealth and send the game to overtime, but his shot as time expired was stopped by Calgary goalkeeper Frankie Scigliano.
“I was thinking Boston from last year,” Richards said, referring to Duch’s game-winner as time expired against the Blazers last season. “Miracles happen.”
But on this night they didn’t.
For all the things that the Stealth can take from this game, the fact remains that it is still a loss. The team is still 1-4 on the season and still has a huge hole to climb out of.
Player of the game: Frankie Scigilano (goalkeeper), Calgary. The rookie goalkeeper came into the game in relief of Mike Poulin and saved 34 of the 39 shots he saw. He also stopped Duch’s shot in the game’s final second. A shot that Duch has made several times before in his career.
Stealth Player of the game: Tyler Richards (goalkeeper), Richards saved 59 of the 71 shots he saw. It was a career-high in saves for the Stealth goalie. HIs performance gave the Stealth a chance to win.
Stealth Unsung Hero of the game: Brett Hickey (forward), Hickey didn’t score any goals on the night, but he was a force on the offensive end. The picks he set on Calgary defenders opened up the game for the Stealth’s scorers and gave Washington several chances to score. While it would be nice to see the rookie score a few more goals, he is doing more than his share of the dirty work.