January 30, 2010

Washington Remains Perfect, Beats Mammoth

by Ron Knabenbauer | NLL.com

Jeff Zywicki made sure that the Washington Stealth stayed undefeated.

The forward Zywicki scored three goals and added six assists to help the Stealth defeat the Colorado Mammoth 12-11 on Saturday night at Pepsi Center.

"It was a big game and it seemed like the ball was coming to me a lot for a lot of plays, and I was just moving it to the other guys and they were burying it for me," Zywicki said.

"We got the ball spread around again which is nice, and which is what our offense needs to do to be successful."

Lewis Ratcliff and Rhys Duch also had big nights for the Stealth (5-0), with Ratcliff finishing with six points, scoring two goals and adding four assists, while Duch finished with five points, netting two goals and adding three assists.

On the Mammoth (2-3) side, Cory Conway and Jed Prossner each had a hat trick while Jamie Shewchuk had two goals on the night. Goaltender Andrew Leyshon played big in net for Colorado, stopping 31 of Washington's 43 shots and only let in one goal in the first 18:39 of the game.

The game was Colorado's fourth one-goal loss of the season and Conway said every goal was important against Washington.

"It was a tight battle, any goal is huge and we just came out on the short side of the scoreboard tonight," Conway said

Colorado did outshoot Washington 47-43 on the night. Goaltender Tyler Richards made 36 saves in net for the Stealth.

After being held scoreless in the first quarter in their first meeting of the year, Colorado wasted no time in finding the back of the net as Jed Prossner beat Richards 5-hole 1:06 into the game for the early 1-0 lead.

The Stealth's Cam Sedgwick answered Colorado's goal with one of his own midway through the first to tie the game at one.

Colorado then went on a 4-1 run beginning with a goal from Conway with 2:06 left in the first to give the Mammoth back the lead.

Jamie Shewchuk would extend the lead to two for Colorado 42 seconds into the second quarter before Washington's Duch cut the lead back to one. Tom Ethington and Prossner also scored in the run.

Down 5-2 midway through the second quarter, Washington went on a 4-1 run of their own led by Zywicki who scored two goals and two assists, and Tom Johnson who had one goal and two assists during the run. Luke Wiles started the run for the Stealth after he scored with 6:21 left in the half.

Zywicki said the team needed to score in order to swing the momentum away from the Mammoth in a hostile environment.

"Colorado came out hard and got up a little bit, and then we came back and tied it up before halftime," Zywicki said.

"It's a game of runs. You just have to get your runs in when you can, and when they start on a run you have to try and stop them right away because momentum is a big thing in this game, and especially here; the fans get into it when Colorado starts scoring a bunch of goals."

The Mammoth retook the lead after Conway scored 2:17 into the third quarter, but after a five-minute major penalty to Colorado's Cliff Smith for goalie interference at 4:46, the Stealth rebounded with a goal from Lewis Ratcliff 18 seconds later.

Colorado Head Coach Steve Govett said the penalty was a tough call for the officials to make and he thought that Smith was pushed into Richards.

"It's a tough call, the game happens so fast and the official made a gut call and I think if he probably had to do it again he might go back and look at it differently," Govett said.

"I know that Cliff Smith wasn't trying to run the goalie... he doesn't want to hurt the guy. He was trying to get to the net and I think he was pushed and sometimes it's hard to see when the angles are different."

Zywicki gave Washington their first lead of the game on a 5-on-3 power play after Bruce Murray took a cross checking penalty while Smith was still serving his major penalty.

Colorado would get a five-minute power play of their own after Wade DeWolff was called for high sticking at 11:33, however a Nick Carlson holding penalty midway through the power play wiped out the man advantage for two minutes.

During that time, Alex Gajic scored a 4-on-4 goal for the Mammoth with 32 seconds remaining in the stanza to tie the game at eight, but Duch scored his second of the game as the third quarter buzzer rang to begin a 3-0 run for the Stealth.

On the Stealth run, Ratcliff scored at 1:44 and Wiles scored nearly a minute later to give Washington the 11-8 advantage.

Colorado would make it interesting in the end as Conway and Shewchuk would both score to make it a one goal game, but Sedgwick scored with 1:28 remaining in regulation to seal the victory for Washington.

Prossner scored with 10 seconds left in the fourth quarter for the Mammoth, but it wouldn't be enough to stage a late comeback for Colorado.

Washington won the faceoff battle, winning 18 of the 27 face-offs, including 12 of the first 14 in the first half. Stealth faceoff-man Jamison Koesterer went 18-26 on faceoffs, improving his league-leading faceoffs won and attempted totals to 90 and 142, respectively.

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