February 18, 2012

Revamped Rochester Rallies Past Washington

from staff reports

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- For fifty-seven minutes of play, the Washington Stealth either tied or led the Rochester Knighhawks in Saturday night’s National Lacrosse League match-up at the Blue Cross Arena. Rochester’s thirteenth goal came with 2:26 left in regulation, in the midst of a five-goal run that closed out a 15-12 victory and dropped the Stealth’s record to 1-5 on the year. With the victory, Rochester improves to 3-4 on the season.

Rochester, playing with a revamped lineup as a result of the indefinite suspensions of five players, was led by Craig Point and Mike Accursi, who each had a three-goal and two-assist evening. On Friday, the Knighthawks activated former two-time NLL Defensive Player of the Year Ryan Cousins, former NLL Rookie of the Year Point, two-time NLL champion Joe Smith and Senior “B” Defenseman of the Year Jamie Batson to help replace a crew of five, including leading scorer Cody Jamieson, that were arrested last Sunday after being involved in a late-night brawl at a Minnesota restaurant after a loss to the Swarm.

On Saturday, Pat McCready recorded a hat trick (3+1), while Joe Walters (1+3) and Cory Vitarelli (1+3) also had solid performances for Rochester. Matt Vinc made a season-high 50 saves in the team's second straight home win.

Washington was led by Lewis Ratcliff's eight-point game (4+4), while Rhys Duch (4+0) and Brett Bucktooth (1+4) also had solid games for the Stealth.

Both teams got off to hot starts as each scored two goals in the opening 3:15. Washington got the scoring started first when Ratcliff found the back of the net just over two minutes into the game. Rochester was quick to answer, scoring two of the next three goals to even the score at 2-2 with 11:45 left in the period. McCready and Scott Campbell scored the Knighthawks goals. Minnesota, however, would take to a 4-2 lead to close the period behind goals from Duch and Matt Beers.

In the second, Rochester was able to tie the score at 5-5 after scoring three of the first four goals in the period. Point and Vitarelli scored early in the period, before Point scored again on the power play to pull even with just under six minutes remaining in the half. Bucktooth scored just over a minute later for the Stealth, pushing them back in front by a goal. Washington would take a 6-5 lead to the locker room at halftime.

In the third, the Stealth surged to an early three goal lead in the first two minutes of play. Mike Grimes and Duch scored just 23 seconds apart for Washington, giving them their largest lead of the game. Rochester then narrowed the deficit back to a single goal behind scores from Accursi and McCready just ahead of the halfway point in the period. The two teams traded goals over the final eight minutes and the Stealth lead 9-8 going into the game’s final quarter.

Washington started the fourth quarter scoring with a goal off the stick of Athan Iannucci, but his goal was quickly answered by Rochester’s Accursi. The teams would then go back and forth trading goals over the next five minutes, with Ratcliff’s goal at the 6:29 mark pushing the Stealth lead back to two goals once again.

Ratcliff scored a pair of power play goals in the fourth, the second of which gave the Stealth a 12-10 lead with 6:30 left in regulation. The Stealth power play unit went 2-for-3 in the game.

With 5:16 on the clock, McCready scored his third goal of the game to make it 12-11. That goal sparked five unanswered by the Knighthawks. Joe Walters gave Rochester its first lead of the game, 13-12, with 2:26 remaining, followed by a Johnny Powless goal and a Brad Self empty-netter to give the Knighthawks the victory at home.

“We failed to make some important adjustments on the back end,” said Webster of the final five minutes of the game. “Lacrosse is a game of momentum and they scored a few in a row and we lost control of the game.”

Iannucci, who didn't have a chance to practice with his new teammates before joining the team in Rochester, learned the offense on the fly and finished with a goal and two assists.

"There are still things that need to get ironed out up front, but the ball moved well for most of the game with Iannucci in there," said Sealth assistant coach Art Webster. "But we are still allowing too many transition opportunities as we switch from offense to defense."

The Knighthawks scored five transition goals in the game, including two in the fourth quarter.

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