The Vancouver Stealth and Buffalo Bandits competed in an entertaining back-and-forth National Lacrosse League battle that came down to the wire Saturday night at the Langley Events Centre.
The Langley-based Stealth were seconds away from sending the game to overtime.
In the end, it wasnâ€™t meant to be as the Bandits edged out the Stealth 14-13.
The Stealth were led by an eight-point outing from Rhys Duch who scored twice and set up six other goals.
Newcomer Johnny Powless posted six assists while Lewis Ratcliff had a hat trick to go with a single assist.
Tyler Richards made 41 saves on 55 shots in a losing cause.
â€œWe competed hard,â€ Stealth head coach Dan Perreault said. â€œIt was just mistakes. We took a couple delay of games penalties in a tight game. We did have some great efforts. T-Rich made some fantastic saves and we had some great individual efforts but when you make mistakes early itâ€™s hard to get that goal back.â€
In a game where the biggest lead was only three goals, fans at the LEC were on the edge of their seats waiting for the Stealth to make a run.
The Bandits, thanks to Dhane Smithâ€™s eight points (five goals, three assists) were able to stop Vancouverâ€™s momentum at key times.
â€œWe answered at the right time,â€ Bandits head coach Troy Cordingley said, after the game. â€œItâ€™s a tough game to come and play against a team that was real hungry especially after their last game. It was a big focus tonight to get our offense off the floor during their transition game. We did a real good job at that.â€
Vancouver clawed back from an early 4-1 deficit and trailed 5-3 after the first quarter.
Powless was in on all three goals in the quarter while John Tavares had two helpers for Buffalo heading into the second quarter.
The second quarter saw the Stealth climb back within one when Ratcliff scored his first of the game.
In an unusual circumstance, Buffalo was awarded a penalty shot on a too many men call by the official.
Smith beat Richards on the ensuing penalty shot to make it 6-4.
The Stealth answered back with two goals to even things up at six, thanks to goals by Joel McCready and Justin Salt, before the Bandits scored the next three to go into the half with a 9-6 lead.
The second half wouldnâ€™t disappoint as Ratcliff scored the first two goals of the third quarter to cut the Banditsâ€™ lead to one, at 9-8.
Buffalo answered right back, scoring twice in under two minutes to make it 11-8.
After that, Tyler Digby and Conrad Chapman (with the first goal of his young NLL career) scored back-to-back for the Stealth, who trailed 11-10 early in the fourth quarter.
Then, in the final few minutes with Vancouver trailing 14-13, the home team had one last opportunity as Powless managed to get a clear shot off, only to be stopped by Bandits goaltender Anthony Cosmo.
â€œThey came up and set the pick, I faked low but I just have to score on my chances next time,â€ Powless said.
â€œThe guys didnâ€™t quit,â€ Perreault said. â€œThey kept working right until the final buzzer. We had a great look at the end but didnâ€™t score.â€
The game saw 39 minutes in total penalties including three bench minors for too many men, three delay of game infractions, and two fighting majors.
The Stealth are on the road this weekend when they visit the Mile High City to take on the Colorado Mammoth on Saturday, Jan. 24.
Theyâ€™ll return home the following week to face the Mammoth at the LEC on Saturday, Jan. 31.