What a turnaround for the Vancouver Stealth.
The Stealth played their best game of their National Lacrosse League season, toppling the Colorado Mammoth 15-7 Saturday at the Langley Events Centre.
This is the same Mammoth team that pounded the Stealth 14-5 two weeks ago.
The Mammoth fell to 4-2 with the loss, while the Stealth improved to 2-3 on the season.
Eric Penney got his fifth straight start in goal for Vancouver, while Alex Buque played in net for Colorado.
The Stealth got on the board first with Ryan Wagner scoring his first NLL goal on his very first professional shift on a breakaway.
The 21-year-old spotted a loose ball coming off the bench and raced down the floor beating Buque over the left arm to make it 1-0.
“I guess I had a good three metres in front of the guy chasing me, but I just kept running hard and was able to get my stick out wide and bury it,” said Wagner about his first goal.
Just over two minutes later, another Stealth rookie, Jordan Durston, made it a 2-0 game, beating Buque with a hard shot from the right side of the floor. Garrett Billings and Joel McCready had the assists.
Later in the first quarter, Vancouver’s Rhys Duch capitalized on a great cross-seam pass from Logan Schuss to score his eighth goal of the season. Garrett Billings earned the secondary helper on the goal.
Vancouver took its 4-3 lead into the second quarter and led the shot count 15-10.
After more than 10 minutes of scoreless action in the second quarter, Duch scored his second of the game, as he made no mistake off a perfect pass from Corey Small.
On the next shift, Small put away his first of the game with a quick underhand shot with just a second left on the shot clock and made it a 6-3 game. Schuss and Billings picked up their third assist each in the game on Small’s team leading ninth of the season.
The Stealth defence along with Penney were sensational in the second quarter keeping the Mammoth’s offence off the scoresheet and went into the second half with a three-goal lead.
The Stealth kept up the pressure in the second half and at the 9:57 mark of the third quarter, Schuss capped off the natural hat trick on a Vancouver power play, as he fired a perfect bounce shot underneath Dillon Ward to make it a 10-4 lead.
“I have been working at going to the net hard and burying on my opportunities. It is nice to see the offense starting to find it’s rhythm and we are being rewarded for the hard work we have been putting in,” Schuss said.
When the smoke cleared, the Stealth had outscored the Mammoth 6-2 in the third quarter, with three of the goals coming from Schuss.
With the Stealth beginning the fourth quarter on the power play, Duch wasted no time getting his hat trick goal and 10th of the season.
Less than a minute later, Eli McLaughlin scored a power play goal of his own to make it a 13-6 score.
With 6:41 to play, Vancouver’s Joel McCready scored the Stealth’s 14th goal of the night with a bounce shot through the legs of Ward.
Adam Jones and Small would trade goals to finish the game, as the Stealth took it by a 15-7 final.
It was the most complete effort from the Stealth this season as they did not trail for a single second in the game. Logan Schuss led the offense recording his second straight nine-point game (three goals, six assists), while Small (two goals, five assists), Billings (one goal, five assists), and Duch (three goals) had outstanding nights as well.
“We competed for 60 minutes first and foremost and we had a lot of guys putting their bodies on the line the whole night,” Stealth head coach Dan Perreault said. “Offensively, the guys shared the ball really well, our players on defense played hard all game, and Eric was great in net.”
The Stealth are back in action this Saturday, Feb. 13 in Rochester against the Knighthawks.
The next home game is on Saturday, Feb. 20 against the Calgary Roughnecks. Game time is 7 p.m. Tickets are available online at www.stealthlax.com or by phone at 604-882-8800.
– Files from Brandon Astle, Vancouver Stealth