DENVER — National Lacrosse League games last 60 minutes and Saturday night the Washington Stealth played pretty well for 45 of them.
There was the matter of those other 15 minutes.
The Stealth gave up seven goals to the Colorado Mammoth in the first period and were forced to fight from behind for nearly the entire contest. Washington finally tied the game late in the fourth period, but two late goals by the Mammoth gave Colorado the 13-11 victory.
The Stealth fell behind 3-1 early, but took advantage of a 5-on-3 power play with three unanswered goals to take a 4-3 lead. But the power play was all that the Stealth could manage offensively in first quarter. When both teams were at full strength, the Mammoth outscored the Stealth 7-1 in the period.
“Definitely we made some pretty glaring defensive errors,” Stealth head coach Chris Hall said. “The power-play got us back in it obviously.
Kevin Croswell, who earned NLL Defensive Player of the Week honors for his performance last weekend against Toronto, allowed six goals in the first period. Backup goalkeeper Matt King allowed one.
Croswell settled down after that, allowing just five goals for the remainder of the contest. But the first period set the tone, the Stealth continued to trail until tying the game with just over two minutes remaining in the fourth period when Mike Grimes scored in transition.
“He (Croswell) played very well after that initial six or seven minutes,” Hall said.
Sean Pollock put Colorado ahead for good with just over a minute remaining and the Mammoth added another goal in the final seconds when Cameron Holding was taken down as he was about to score an empty-netter, which by rule is a goal.
“Our last two minutes of execution just wasn’t there,” Hall said.
The offensive right-side produced nicely for the Stealth. Lewis Ratcliff led Washington with four goals and two assists and Dean Hill added two goals and two assists.
“The right side was pretty productive, but the left side wasn’t,” Hall said.
Rhys Duch and Jeff Zywicki scored the only two goals for the Stealth’s left side.
Ratcliff’s increased production was a welcome change for the Stealth.
“He was much better,” Hall said. “He shot the ball much better — shot the ball with authority.”
Washington gave itself an opportunity to steal one on the road by holding Colorado to just six goals in the final three periods, but Hall said the offense didn’t produce enough to get the job done.
“We scored four goals in the second half and that’s not enough,” Hall said. “We need better execution.”
The Mammoth were led by a couple of rookies. Adam Jones had a hat-trick and four assists and Jamie Lincoln had two goals and two assists.
With the win, the Mammoth are just one win away from clinching the NLL’s first playoff berth, while the Stealth fall to 2-7 on the season. The same two teams meet at 4:45 p.m. tonight at Comcast Arena in the second half of the home-and-home series.
Mammoth 13, Stealth 11
Washington 5222 —11
1st Quarter — C: Lincoln (Reid, Levis) 1:06. W: Hill (Duch, Sedgwick) 2:48. C: (Prossner) 3:41. C: Lincoln (Jones, Pollock) 4:38. W: Ratcliff (PP) (Hill, Zywicki) 6:01. W: Hill (PP) (Zywicki, Iannucci) 6:58. W: Ratcliff (PP) (Zywicki, Iannucci) 9:49. C: Hopcroft (Jones, Lincoln) 11:02. C: Pollock (Hopcroft, Jones) 11:37. C: McBride (Prout, Park) 12:07. C: Jones (Prout, McBride) 12:38. W: Zywicki (Bucktooth) 13:14.
2nd Quarter — W: Moleski (SH) 3:52. C: Prout (PP) (Jones) 8:35. W: Duch (Sedgwick, Ratcliff) 9:36. C: Hopcroft (Prossner, Lincoln) 13:26.
3rd Quarter — W: Ratcliff (PP) (Iannucci) 6:38. C: Gajic (Prout) 7:21. W: Sedgwick (Ratcliff) 9:25.
4th Quarter — C: Jones (PP) (Prout) 1:59. W: Ratcliff (PP) (Hill, Iannucci) 3:14. W: Grimes 12:56. C: Pollock (Sullivan, Hawksbee) 14:00. C: Holding (EN) 14:41.