EVERETT — It was a roller-coaster night for Washington Stealth goalkeeper Tyler Richards.
For just over three quarters Richards was the biggest reason why the Washington Stealth had a 12-7 lead over the Calgary Roughnecks.
What he did with 11:31 to go in the game was the reason the Stealth almost lost control of the game.
And what he did in the final six minutes of the game was the reason the Stealth hung on to win 16-14.
With the win, the Stealth move into a first-place tie with Calgary and take a 1-0 lead in all-important season-series.
After giving up seven goals in three quarters and leading the Stealth to a five-goal lead. Richards came out of his position in goal to try to secure a loose ball. Richards was hit by a Calgary player with a high stick and he retaliated. As often is the case with officials, they caught the second act and sent Richards to the penalty box for five minutes for high-sticking.
“I let the emotions get the better of me for one second and almost cost us the game,” Richards said. “Luckily our boys responded and put together a few goals in the last five minutes and we came out with it.”
Richards finished the game with 45 saves on 54 shots faced.
Richards’ penalty put backup goalkeeper Nick Patterson in a precarious position. It was on Patterson to come in cold and stop the Roughnecks from getting back into the game despite being on the power play. Patterson gave up five goals in his 5:22 of playing time. The last goal he gave up was to Curtis Dickson and moved the Roughnecks to within one at 13-12.
Richards returned, but it didn’t have an immediate impact. Calgary transition player Geoff Snider won the faceoff and took drove through the heart of the Stealth defense beating Richards and tying the game at 13.
Less than a minute later Rhys Duch scored his third goal of the game and the Stealth regained the lead at 14-13. That goal seemed to calm Richards down. He gave up just one goal the rest of the way, a shot by Dickson which Richards initially stopped, but somehow the ball got through his legs and slowly rolled over the line for a Calgary goal.
It was the final goal of the game for either team.
After the game, the normally cool Richards addressed his teammates.
“I apologized,” Richards said. “I can’t let my emotions get the better of me. If someone chops me I’ve got to let it go. Especially when we are playing a first-place team that’s one game ahead of us, I can’t be doing things like that.”
Players and coaches seemed to accept Richards’ apology.
“We have to keep our heads about us in that situation,” Duch said. “Tyler knows he made a mistake. He’s already apologized to the team. … We’ve got to learn from that and we’ve got to be a little bit mentally tougher.”
Stealth head coach Chris Hall said Saturday’s game was evidence of just how quickly things can change in the National Lacrosse League.
“Less than a minute of a little bit of a meltdown and losing focus and, bingo, you find yourself in big trouble in this league,” Hall said.
Luckily for the Stealth, they have Duch. He scored two of his three goals in the fourth quarter and finished with 10 points on the night. His seven assists were a new career-high and his 10 total points tied a career-high.
Duch wasn’t the only offensive star of the night, Athan Iannucci had four goals and three assists, Lewis Ratcliff had one goal and six assists and Brett Bucktooth had two goals and two assists.
“I feel like I am capable of doing that more often than not,” Iannucci said. “I’m just happy I was able to tonight. Everyone else helped out a lot though. We moved it around and played well with each other.”
Aaron Lommers covers the Washington Stealth for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stealth 16, Roughnecks 14
Calgary 2 3 1 8 — 14
Washington 1 6 5 4 — 16
1st Quarter — Scoring: WAS — Iannucci Goal (Duch, Hill) 6:17; CGY — Veltman Goal (PP) (Ranger, Evans) 7:01; CGY — Dobbie Goal (PP) (Ranger, Veltman) 9:07.
2nd Quarter — Scoring: CGY — Evans Goal (Shattler, Dobbie) 0:31; WAS — Iannucci Goal (Ratcliff, Bucktooth) 1:47; WAS — Duch Goal (PP) (Ratcliff, Bucktooth) 2:30; WAS — McMichael Goal (Salt) 2:38; CGY — Dinsdale Goal 3:50; WAS — Bucktooth Goal (PP) (Ratcliff) 7:29; WAS — Bucktooth Goal (Ratcliff, Iannucci) 11:52; CGY — Resetarits Goal (Shattler, Dobbie) 13:10; WAS — Smith Goal (Duch) 14:58.
3rd Quarter — Scoring: WAS — Hill Goal (Duch, Sorensen) 8:00; WAS — Iannucci Goal 8:33; WAS — Iannucci Goal (Duch, Hill) 9:41; CGY — Dickson Goal 10:33; WAS — Smith Goal (Duch, Hill) 10:56; WAS — Ratcliff Goal (Duch, Iannucci) 12:05.
4th Quarter — Scoring: CGY — Evans Goal (PP) (Dobbie, Shattler) 0:28; CGY — Shattler Goal (Evans) 4:38; CGY — Dickson Goal 5:47; CGY — Shattler Goal (Snider) 5:55; WAS — Duch Goal (Ratcliff, Iannucci) 6:49; CGY — Shattler Goal (Evans, McFetridge) 8:03; CGY — Dobbie Goal (Dickson, Poulin) 8:51; CGY — Snider Goal 8:56; WAS — Duch Goal (Ratcliff) 9:53; WAS — Salt Goal (Sorensen, Duch) 11:12; WAS — Garrison Goal (Sorensen) 13:13; CGY — Dickson Goal (EA) 13:47.