February 9, 2013

Richards, Stealth Shut Down Mammoth

from press release

EVERETT, Wash. – Backed by nearly unstoppable defensive play, Washington goaltender Tyler Richards turned away 51 of 57 shots to hold Colorado to its lowest scoring total in two years as the Stealth downed the Mammoth 13-6, Saturday night before 3,683 at Everett's Comcast Arena.

With the win, the Stealth advanced to 4-3 on the season, putting a full game on both Minnesota and Colorado while securing a potential advantage headed toward the playoffs by completing a season-sweep of the Mammoth.

"(Richards) was technically so sound tonight," said Stealth Head Coach Chris Hall on a performance that elevated the Coquitlam, British Columbia native to an NLL-best 10.01 goals against average.

"He was in the right place all the time. He knew where the shots were coming from and was just absolutely dead solid," said Hall. "When you're in the groove you see the ball so well."

With captain Kyle Sorensen forcing seven turnovers including four in the first half, the Stealth defense continued to make a name for itself turning away a Colorado attack that has averaged just over 13 goals-per-game.

Not even the league's top scorer, John Grant, Jr. could put a dent in the Washington armor as the Stealth held the 13-year NLL veteran to just a single point.

"I made some good stops on (Grant, Jr.), but we were dictating where the shots were coming from," said Richards who made 28 first-half saves on the Mammoth and another 23 in the second. "I give all the credit in the world to the defense."

But while the Richards and his defenders continued to have their way, it was Hall's offense that regained its swagger, led by a power play that produced goals on four of six attempts.

"That's what wins games in this league," said Hall. "Obviously we focused on it this week and we talked about it during the week."

Washington dominated from the start scoring five of seven first-quarter goals including a power play shot by Dean Hill thrown past Mammoth keeper Matt Roik at 12:57 to start the scoring.

Just 1:31 later, playing shorthanded following a cross check by defender Tim Henderson, Stealth forward Cliff Smith broke free and converted play originating from Mike Grimes and Kyle Sorensen to make it 2-0.

Interrupted briefly with a goal by the Mammoth's Colton Clark at 8:47, the Stealth went on a three-goal tear to make it 5-1 with 2:23 remaining in the first.

Although the Mammoth pushed the Stealth into the early minutes of the second quarter with an unsuccessful five-on-three powerplay followed by a five-on-four opportunity that Adam Jones converted at 11:12 to make it 5-3, Washington turned up the heat scoring the next three straight.

The burst gave the Stealth an 8-3 lead going into the intermission.

"You never want to give the other team an opportunity to shift momentum and get themselves back in the game," said Hall. "Even though we didn't cash in, we didn't give up a two or three goal run."

In the third, the Stealth tallied two more including the first of three on the night for Rhys Duch at 13:28 followed by a Cliff Smith score at 6:13 to make it 10-4.

Smith's goal came after taking a pass from defender Tim Henderson when the rookie took the ball three-quarters of the length of the floor. With only a man to beat, Henderson, dished the ball over to Smith who was cutting in on goal from the right side and put a shot past Roik for the final score of the period.

In the fourth, Washington dodged chippy play and a scare that left rookie Bill Hostrawser, playing in his first NLL game, on the turf after a bout with the Mammoth's Ilija Gajic.

Continuing as it had all night, Washington continued to apply pressure on Colorado, holding the Mammoth to just four goals through the 7:24 mark.

In the end, Colorado put two more on the Stealth to make it 12-6 before rookie Mitch McMichael tallied the final Washington score with 30 seconds remaining to make it 13-6. The goal was his fourth on the season.

"We new something was different after walking off the floor last night," said McMichael. "We went harder and had much more intensity and focus."

Washington's big three again dominated the opposition with Iannucci leading all scorers with a goal and five assists for six points, Duch scoring three goals and two assists and Ratcliff finishing with a single goal and four assists for five points. Smith and Bucktooth both netted two goals and two assists for four points.

For the Mammoth, Adam Jones led the way with two goals and two assists for four points. Roik took the loss after facing 42 shots.

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