The Vancouver Stealth spoiled a raucous party Friday night at Saskatoon’s SaskTel Centre.
But even though Langley’s pro lacrosse team edged the Saskatchewan Rush 13-11 in the first ever home game for the Saskatoon franchise, it was an all-around great night in many respects.
For one, more than 9,000 packed into the arena, making for an electric atmosphere as Saskatoon fans got their first look at the Rush since they relocated from Edmonton over the summer.
And just as importantly, they were treated to a thrilling night of National Lacrosse League action.
The Stealth won their first game of the 2016 campaign, move to 1-1, and will host the Colorado Mammoth next Saturday, Jan. 23 at the Langley Events Centre.
The first 1,000 fans into the building will receive a Logan Schuss bobblehead.
Friday in Saskatoon, the Stealth got off to a good start with Logan Schuss scoring his first of the season just before the five minute mark with a perfect bounce shot that beat Bold.
After Rhys Duch made it a 2-0 game, rookie Jordan Durston put away his first career NLL goal in his first ever game. Durston stole the ball deep in the Rush zone and while diving across the crease, fired it past the right shoulder of Rush goaltender Aaron Bold.
Saskatchewan got its offence going with back-to-back goals from Curtis Knight and Robert Church to cut the deficit to one.
The Stealth answered immediately with markers from Corey Small and Durston to take a 5-2 lead into the second quarter.
“I just wanted to have fun out there in my first game. To see that first one go in was an amazing feeling,” Durston said. “Everything happened so fast and was just happy to see it go in past Bold. It will be a moment I will never forget.”
The Rush opened the second frame with back to back goals from Zach Greer and Knight to get to within one, but Joel McCready restored the two goal advantage with a breakaway goal at the 3:04 mark.
After that, the Rush began to take the game over. The reigning NLL champs scored five out of the next six goals in the quarter including the last four to grab a 9-7 lead at half-time.
In the third quarter, both goaltenders were solid, only allowing both teams to score twice.
Duch and Small had the two for the Stealth, while Corbeil and Jeff Cornwall had the pair for the Rush.
The Stealth saved their best quarter for last.
Corey Small broke out in a big way, while Stealth netminder Eric Penney shut the door completely in between the pipes.
Small was able to score three straight goals in a span of just under four minutes and gave his team a one-goal lead with 5:59 to play.
From that point, Vancouver’s defence shut the door in front of Penney the rest of the way while McCready iced the game with an empty net tally with six seconds left in the game.
“We worked as a team the entire game and it paid off. It was nice to see us battle back in the second half and that is because we stuck to our system,” Penny said. “The defence did a great job of not letting them get over the top in that fourth quarter and made it easier on me to make the stops.”
The second-year goaltender picked up his second career win and first of the season, while Bold was charged with the loss.
Small finished the night with five goals and one assist, while Duch collected two goals and three assists.