ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Washington Stealth special teams were not so special against the Minnesota Swarm at Xcel Energy Center on Saturday night.
The Stealth penalty kill allowed four power-play goals on six chances and even worse, the Swarm’s Ryan Benesch scored two shorthanded goals on the same penalty in the second quarter.
Minnesota outscored the Stealth 7-2 in that period and the Swarm held off a late Washington rally to win their first National Lacrosse League game of the season, 15-14.
“It’s just not acceptable,” said Stealth head coach Chris Hall about the shorthanded goals. “I was pretty upset with that. We have a pretty experienced offense, it’s just inexcusable … our power play has allowed far too many shorthanded goals against. Those kind of things will kill you.”
Despite all the special teams errors, the Stealth had possession and a chance to tie the game with 17.2 seconds remaining coming out of a timeout. But Washington (3-2) could not get off a shot as a pass down low could not be completed and Minnesota (1-3) was able to run out the remaining time to secure its first victory of the season.
“I think it was the second or third option on the play,” said Hall. Afterwards he (assistant coach Dan Perreault) felt the first option was open. We didn’t take it. We gotta work on that, when we have an opportunity to tie or win the game late, we need to make darn sure…”
The Stealth led 4-3 after the first quarter, with Rhys Duch and Lewis Ratcliff recording a goal and an assist in the quarter. But after Mike Grimes’ goal closed out the period, the Swarm responded with five straight goals, capped by Benesch’s two shorthanded goals.
Minnesota forward Callum Crawford racked up four assists in that span and added a fifth before the second period ended. Benesch completed a quarter hat trick with a goal with 52 seconds to go that gave the Swarm a 10-5 lead.
“We got ourselves into penalty trouble (in the second),” said Duch. “We gotta move on (from the penalties). Playing frustrated translates into playing worse … they jumped on us when we were down.”
Duch and Ratcliff led the Stealth offense with three goals and five assists each. Athan Iannucci also tallied a hat trick, with all three goals coming in the fourth quarter to lead the Stealth’s rally.
Iannucci’s final tally came with 41.2 seconds remaining to give the Stealth hope.
Benesch, Kiel Matisz and Shayne Jackson answered the Stealth trio with three goals apiece for Minnesota. The Swarm also received a big lift from team captain Andrew Suitor, who was making his first appearance of the season after being suspended for the Swarm’s first two games.
Suitor suffered a leg injury early in the fourth quarter and had to be helped off the field, but came back to score the eventual game-winning goal with 7:57 remaining. Suitor intercepted a pass near the Swarm restraining line, raced down the field unchecked and beat Stealth goalkeeper Tyler Richards one-on-one.
“It was a big goal from a big-time player,” said Duch. “We left the goalie out to dry.”
Richards stopped 37 of 52 shots, but in Hall’s mind, he was one of the few members of the Stealth to play well.
“Richards made some pretty big saves, other than that, I would probably be a bit hard pressed to say that anyone had played a really good game,” said Hall.
Swarm 15, Stealth 14
Washington 4 2 4 4 — 14
Minnesota 3 7 4 1 — 15
1st Quarter — Scoring: WAS — Ratcliff Goal (Duch) 2:52; MIN — Watt Goal (Benesch) 9:06; MIN —- Suitor Goal (Crepinsek) 10:56; WAS — Snider Goal 11:03; WAS — Duch Goal (Ratcliff, Hill) 12:11; MIN — Matisz Goal (Benesch, Jackson) 13:24; WAS — Grimes Goal (Garrison) 14:19. Goalie Changes: None.
2nd Quarter — Scoring: MIN — Matisz Goal (Crawford, Crepinsek) 1:46; MIN — MacIntosh Goal (Crawford, Earl) 4:18; MIN — Jackson Goal (Crawford, Benesch) 5:06; MIN — Benesch Goal (SH) (Suitor, Gilbert) 11:14; MIN — Benesch Goal (SH) (Jackson, Crawford) 11:53; WAS — Ratcliff Goal (Hill, Duch) 12:42; MIN — Matisz Goal (PP) (Crawford, Benesch) 13:14; MIN — Benesch Goal (Hass) 14:08; WAS — Duch Goal (Iannucci, Ratcliff) 14:54. Goalie Changes: None.
3rd Quarter — Scoring: MIN — MacIntosh Goal 0:07; WAS — Smith Goal (Duch, Ratcliff) 0:21; WAS — Ratcliff Goal (McMichael) 1:36; WAS — Garrison Goal (Bucktooth, Beers) 6:34; MIN — Jackson Goal (PP) (Crawford, Matisz) 9:44; MIN — Jackson Goal (PP) 10:28; WAS — Bucktooth Goal (PP) (Duch, Buchanan) 11:18; MIN — Crawford Goal (PP) (Matisz, Jackson) 14:01. Goalie Changes: None.
4th Quarter — Scoring: WAS — Iannucci Goal (Beers) 2:19; WAS — Iannucci Goal (PP) (Duch, Ratcliff) 5:24; MIN — Suitor Goal 7:03; WAS — Duch Goal (Hill, Henderson) 9:27; WAS — Iannucci Goal (PP) (Ratcliff, Grimes) 14:18. Goalie Changes: None.