EVERETT — Washington ventured into some uncharted territory early in the third quarter of Friday night’s National Lacrosse League tilt with the visiting Buffalo Bandits.
The score was tied — something that hasn’t occurred in the second half of Washington’s previous two home games.
Enter Stealth veteran forward and assistant captain Cam Sedgwick.
Sedgwick’s four goals, including a pivotal power-play tally that broke a 7-7 tie with 8 minutes, 35 seconds remaining in the third period helped propel Washington to a 13-11 victory over the Bandits in front of 2,879 fans at Comcast Arena.
The ninth-year Burnaby, British Columbia native had scored just one goal in two games, but picked a crucial time for a breakout offensive performance.
Sedgwick ignited two tie-breaking runs and his output was complemented by two goals and one assist from Luke Wiles, four assists each from Rhys Duch (who also scored a goal) and Paul Rabil and one goal and five assists from Stealth points leader Jeff Zywicki.
“He got two huge goals for us,” Stealth head coach Chris Hall said of Sedgwick. “He’s a very, very intelligent player and always knows what the game situation is and when we need things to happen, I thought he did a great job.”
Goals came in bunches for the Stealth (3-0) — Washington had numerous goal-scoring streaks, including two three-goal runs and one four-goal burst in the third quarter to give the Stealth an 11-7 lead that helped stave off a feisty Buffalo (0-3) squad looking for its first win of the season.
Washington goaltender Tyler Richards, who came into the matchup with a .849 save percentage, second behind fellow Stealth goaltender Matt Roik’s league-leading .851 save percentage, came up with a couple big saves down the stretch. Richards finished with 28 saves.
The most alarming statistic of the night — and most beneficial for the Stealth — was Washington’s domination in the face-off circle. The Stealth’s Jamison Koesterer won 25 of 27 face-offs to help sustain possession.
“Jamison (Koesterer) has been awesome,” Sedgwick said. “He’s been outstanding and that’s something we’ve never really had: a good face-off guy.
“(He shows) just lots of aggression and its great for the offense to get a lot of touches on the ball and get that possession, in general it’s pretty unbelievable.”
Buffalo veteran transition player Mark Steenhuis paced the Buffalo attack with five goals and one assist. Steenhuis, who had 101 points (51 goals, 50 assists) last season for Buffalo, proved hard to contain on the right side — three goals came on quick moves while crashing the goal.
“To be honest, he owned me on the crease tonight, I think everyone saw that,” Richards said. “But we kept him to the outside and had a lot of success.”
Bandits third-year defender Brandon Francis received a game misconduct for instigating a fight with Stealth rookie Matt Beers with 9:28 remaining in the second quarter. Buffalo quickly racked up 25 penalty minutes in the first half while it tried to gain a physical edge on Washington.
The Stealth maintained composure by not giving in to numerous potential fights before Beers’ scuffle with Francis.
The late-game defense also helped Washington solidify its home-turf advantage. “We had to get off to a good start and we wanted to make this our home and we wanted to win at home so that we would excite the fans,” Hall said. “Our job is to win at home and continue winning.”
Buffalo pulled starting goaltender Ken Montour with 4:25 remaining in the second quarter after the Oshweken, Ontario native surrendered seven first-half goals. Rookie Angus Goodleaf started strong, not allowing a goal for 9 minutes, 50 seconds before Sedgwick gave Washington an 8-7 lead with 8:35 remaining in the third quarter. Goodleaf finished with 17 saves.
Washington faces its toughest opponent of the season at 6:30 tonight in Calgary, last year’s league champions and a team who walloped the Stealth 17-5 in the 2009 West Division final.
“They fed us our lunch pretty bad (in the playoffs) so we’ve gotta come out ready and exact some revenge,” Sedgwick said. Stealth 13, Bandits 11
First Quarter—1, Buffalo, Llord 1 0:31. 2, Washington, Wiles 4 (Zywicki, Martin), 4:25. 3, Buffalo, Steenhuis 6 (Priolo), 8:39. 4, Washington, Duch 5 (Johnson, Martin), 9:17. 5, Washington, Morgan 3 (Zywicki, Duch), 10:24. 6, Washington, Sedgwick 2 (Duch, Zywicki), 12:48. Penalties-Harasym Buf (slashing), 5:01; Hunt Was (cross checking), 5:01; Martin Was (slashing), 5:01; Montour Buf (roughing), 12:48; Zywicki Was (roughing), 12:48; Francis Buf (roughing), 12:54.
Second Quarter—7, Buffalo, Driscoll 2 (Montour), 0:59. 8, Buffalo, Steenhuis 7 (Montour), 4:56. 9, Washington, Sedgwick 3 (Wiles, Duch), 5:55 (pp). 10, Washington, Sedgwick 4 (Zywicki, Rabil), 10:16. 11, Washington, Johnson 4 (Ratcliff, Martin), 10:35. 12, Buffalo, Bucktooth 3 (Montour, Priolo), 11:26. 13, Buffalo, Steenhuis 8 (Goodleaf), 13:50. Penalties-Francis Buf (instigator, fighting, game misconduct), 5:32; Beers Was (fighting), 5:32; Shannon Buf (delay of game), 14:43.
Third Quarter—14, Buffalo, Steenhuis 9 (Greenhalgh, Dostie), 4:29 (pp). 15, Washington, Sedgwick 5 (Morgan, Duch), 6:25 (pp). 16, Washington, Ratcliff 5 (Rabil, Johnson), 8:53. 17, Washington, Sorensen 1 (Richards), 12:06. 18, Washington, Zywicki 8 (Rabil), 13:00. 19, Buffalo, Accursi 3 (Resetarits, Steenhuis), 14:59. Penalties-Martin Was (holding), 3:20; Accursi Buf (holding), 5:58; Sorensen Was (holding), 9:56; Hunt Was (bench minor), 14:15.
Fourth Quarter—20, Buffalo, Corbeil 1 5:10. 21, Washington, Wiles 5 (Rabil, Sedgwick), 5:57. 22, Washington, Ratcliff 6 (Zywicki, Morgan), 8:57. 23, Buffalo, Steenhuis 10 (Priolo), 9:42. 24, Buffalo, Dostie 1 (Bucktooth, Greenhalgh), 13:14. Penalties-Priolo Buf (interference on goalie), 1:13; Duch Was (slashing), 14:57.
Shots on Goal—Buffalo 8-12-8-11-39. Washington 15-11-12-8-46.
Power Play Opportunities—Buffalo 1 of 5; Washington 2 of 5.
Faceoffs—Buffalo 2 of 27; Washington 25 of 27.
Goalies—Buffalo, Montour 0-2-0 (23 shots-16 saves); Goodleaf 0-1-0 (23 shots-17 saves). Washington, Richards 2-0-0 (39 shots-28 saves).