SAINT PAUL — The Minnesota Swarm, not the Washington Stealth, looked like a team riding a three-game winning streak on Saturday night.
Thanks to an outstanding performance by goalkeeper Tyler Carlson, the Swarm, who had lost three consecutive games, defeated the Stealth 12-5 and ended Washington’s season-best three-game winning streak.
The Stealth fell to 7-5 on the season, but still hold a half-game lead over both Calgary and Edmonton for first place in the National Lacrosse League’s West Division. The Roughnecks trail the Stealth 1-0 in the season series, while the Rush have already won their season series against Washington. The Swarm’s victory also gives them the season series over the Stealth, making the race for the West Division crown alot more interesting than it was before Saturday’s game.
Stealth goalkeeper Tyler Richards made several highlight-reel saves to seemingly keep Washington in the game, but the day belonged to Carlson, who saved 48 of the 53 shots he faced.
“He had a fantastic night,” Stealth head coach Chris Hall said. “He was solid. I think we didn’t do a very good job of getting inside early and then he got comfortable and kept us to the outside. I think their defense kept us out and Carlson was on the money.”
Washington took a 1-0 lead with 8:26 remaining in the first quarter on a Dean Hill goal, then the Stealth offense fizzled.
Minnesota’s Callum Crawford scored back-to-back goals to give the Swarm a 2-1 lead after one. Crawford led the Swarm offensively with four goals on the night, all of them coming in the first half.
“He scored their first and scored their second and then he scored their fifth and their sixth back-to-back,” Hall said. “Those goals hurt us.”
Washington’s Mike Grimes knotted things up with 12:15 to play in the second quarter. That was the last goal the Stealth would score for 32 minutes and 17 seconds of game time. By the time Washington found the net again in the fourth quarter Minnesota had added six more goals and separated themselves from the West division leaders.
“We shot poorly and we didn’t get inside on them at all,” Hall said.
Down 6-2 at halftime, the Stealth had a chance to get back in the game to start the third quarter with a 5-on-3 power play. Indicative of the kind of night it was, rather than scoring, the Stealth gave up a shorthanded goal in transition and the Swarm extended the lead to 7-2.
“It’s totally inexcusable,” Hall said of the goal. “It’s next to impossible, but we managed to accomplish it.”
The Stealth were never able to take advantage of the power play.
With Richards playing well in goal again, the Stealth never appeared out of the game, but with a struggling offense going against a hot goalkeeper in Carlson, a five-goal lead might as well have been 20.
“T-Rich and our defense did an awfully good job of hanging on,” Hall said. “They only had seven at the end of three quarters. We only had two.
“Our offense was just nowhere to be found.”
Minnesota’s Ryan Benesch recorded a hat trick, with all of the goals coming in the fourth quarter. His third goal made him the leading goal-scorer in franchise history with 131.
The Stealth’s five goals were their lowest output of the season and tied the least amount of goals they have scored in a game since moving to Everett prior to the 2010 season. The Stealth narrowly missed matching its lowest goal total of all time, four, which has happened twice — once when the team played in San Jose and the other in Albany.
The Stealth are off next weekend, while Calgary faces Colorado and the Rush travel east to face both Buffalo and Toronto. Two wins by the Rush would give them sole possession of first place.
“You can never take a breather in this league,” Hall said. “You have to come to play hard every night.
“So now we have ourselves going back toward the rest of the pack and an Edmonton team that already has the season series on us can pass us next week. So we got work to do.”
Swarm 12, Stealth 5
Washington 1 1 0 3 — 5
Minnesota 2 4 1 5 — 12
1st Quarter—Scoring: WAS—Hill Goal (PP) (Duch, Ratcliff) 6:34; MIN—Crawford Goal (Gillam, Watt) 7:46; MIN—Crawford Goal (Earl, Carlson) 9:46.
2nd Quarter—Scoring: WAS—Grimes Goal (McMichael) 2:45; MIN—Hass Goal (Gilbert) 4:05; MIN—Card Goal (Crawford, MacIntosh) 8:09; MIN—Crawford Goal (Benesch, Gillam) 12:19; MIN—Crawford Goal (Jackson, MacIntosh) 12:36.
3rd Quarter—Scoring: MIN—Card Goal (SH) (Gilbert, Carlson) 0:29.
4th Quarter—Scoring: MIN—Gillam Goal (Crawford, Downing) 3:44; WAS—Duch Goal (Jones, Bucktooth) 5:02; MIN—Benesch Goal (MacIntosh) 5:25; WAS—Ratcliff Goal (Duch, Smith) 6:00; MIN—Benesch Goal (Jackson, Crawford) 7:34; MIN—Gibson Goal (Tao, MacIntosh) 7:59; MIN—Benesch Goal (PP) (Crawford, MacIntosh) 11:27; WAS—Duch Goal (Iannucci, Salt) 12:27.