If you were told that there was an overtime game in the National Lacrosse League last night and you only had one guess as to who scored the winning goal, what’s the first name that would pop into your head? It kind of makes sense that you’d go with the guy whose nickname is “Clutch”. The rhyme is part of it, but Rhys Duch keeps earning that moniker with his play and last night was no exception. The Washington sniper scored his fourth goal of the game in the extra frame to give the Stealth their first win of the year, 11-10 over the Bandits in Buffalo. Colorado played a different style of game but got the same results, winning their fifth straight in an 11-7 victory over Edmonton. Toronto dominated the last 50 minutes, shutting out Philadelphia in the second half en route to a 15-6 win over the Wings. And Rochester rode Cory Vitarelli and Cody Jamieson to a 16-14 win over Minnesota that left both teams one game shy of the .500 mark. See details and links after the jump.
Duch added 4 assists to his 4 goals as Washington finally got its first W on the season. In overtime, Buffalo controlled the ball after a long opening faceoff scrum. Mark Steenhuis held the ball for 20 seconds before taking a shot that Tyler Richards stopped. Chad Culp snagged the loose ball off the rebound but missed Steenhuis with a pass and the Stealth recovered. Duch took the ball from Kyle Ross in the offensive zone, slid down the left wing a bit, reversed and headed back to within a step of the restraining line, looking cross floor for a pass the whole way. Then he took a jab step and cut hard towards the net, going wide around Billy Dee Smith, and had an open look at goal. He took an outside-in overhand bounce shot that had Mike Thompson moving to his left and found a small hole between the keeper’s legs.
Lewis Ratcliff finally broke out for his first big offensive night of the year, notching a hat trick and adding 3 assists. Brett Bucktooth chipped in with his first two goals for Washington. Luke Wiles had 4 goals for the Bandits with John Tavares and Mat Giles each scoring twice. Tavares added 3 assists. Both Thompson and Tyler Richards made 41 saves.
Colorado has been playing high-scoring games this year, but last night they won a more defensive struggle. None the less, John Grant Jr. kept up his torrid scoring pace, having a hand in 8 of the Mammoth’s 11 tallies with 3 goals and 5 assists. Rookies Jordan McBride and Adam Jones also had hat tricks for Colorado. Chris Levis made 44 saves to earn the win. The game was close throughout, with Scott Evans‘ third goal tying it up for Edmonton 6:09 into the fourth quarter. Colorado scored the last four goals to pull away for the 11-7 final and their fifth straight win to start the season, the first time the franchise has ever won its first 5 games.
Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, Toronto started to look very much like a team that wants to go to its third straight Champions Cup final. Josh Sanderson, Garret Billings and Stephan LeBlanc had big nights to lead the Rock over the Wings in a game in which Toronto led from start to finish in the 15-6 win. LeBlanc scored 4 goals while Sanderson had his second straight 9-point game with 3 goals and 6 assists. Billings also posted a 9-spot on a goal and 8 helpers. Matt Roik made 38 saves, as the Rock only outshot the Wings 46-44. Six players scored single goals for Philadelphia.
Minnesota led or was tied until the 6:59 mark of the fourth quarter in Rochester, but the Knighthawks scored 4 of the last 5 goals to stop a three-game losing streak with a 16-14 win. Vitarelli had 4 goals and 3 assists and Jamieson scored 3 and 6 to lead the Rochester offense. Ryan Benesch was the top gun for the Swarm with 4 goals and 3 assists. Rookie Jordan MacIntosh had his first career hat trick.
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