NLL: Washington Stealth Earn Berth In Finals

After persevering through several waves of pressure, the Washington Stealth beat the Calgary Roughnecks 14-13 and are going to their third Champion’s Cup game in four years.

In a game in which they never trailed but saw their opponent tie the game several times, Washington was always able to retake the lead and kill any momentum Calgary was building.

The Stealth will now face the defending champion Rochester Knighthawks in the Champion’s Cup game next weekend.

The Roughnecks came out firing in the first quarter and dominated the action, badly outshooting their opposition and beating goaltender Tyler Richards three times. Unfortunately, they couldn’t beat the goal posts and as a result were held scoreless in the first frame. The Stealth however, were able to score twice on Calgary netminder Mike Poulin to take the early lead.

Calgary scored twice in the first two minutes of the second quarter to tie the game, but Washington would respond with three quick goals of their own. Another three-goal flurry by the Roughnecks would knot the game at 5-5 before yet another three-goal run from the Stealth would put them up by three going into halftime.

In the third period the Stealth would add two more quick goals to stretch their lead to five before Calgary would begin to mount yet another comeback bid. Curtis “Superman” Dickson would score a natural hat trick to bring the Roughnecks back within two before Washington’s Brett Bucktooth stopped the bleeding with a goal of his own. Dickson would add a fourth goal in the period followed by a Scott Ranger tally to bring the Roughnecks within one by the end of the quarter.

Dickson would score his fifth goal early in the fourth quarter to once again tie the game. The rest of the way it would be Curtis Dickson versus the Washington Stealth, with Dickson and Washington exchanging goals back and forth the remainder of the way. But it would be a goal by Rhys Duch at the 8:06 mark which would be the final nail in the Roughnecks’ coffin.

Duch had a hat trick and four assists for the Stealth while teammate Athan Iannucci matched him with three goals and four assists of his own.

Dickson led all scorers on the night with seven goals and an assist for eight points while Dane Dobbie scored a hat trick and added two assists.

Tyler Richards had a strong night in goal for Washington, turning aside 39 shots, including the first 16 straight to give his team a chance to build up a lead. The rest of the way, T-Rich was able to make the key stops the Stealth needed to hang on to the win.

The Roughnecks might have taken the game to overtime, but for a goal that was waved off mid-way through the third quarter when it was ruled that a crease violation had occurred. Replays  shown on the Scotiabank Saddledome JumboTron clearly showed that the refs had gotten it wrong, but it was further ruled that Calgary head coach Curt Malawsky didn’t throw the challenge flag in time to earn a review.

Had that play stood, it might have been a different result. But it was not to be.

The Stealth are now the top seed for the Champion’s Cup and will host the East Division winning Rochester Knighthawks in the final game. Due to a scheduling conflict in their home stadium, the game will be played in the Langley Events Centre in Langley, B.C., home of the Thunder of the WLA.