They hung with the champs for three quarters, but the Vancouver Stealth had no answer for a seven-minute stretch to start the fourth quarter.
The visiting Saskatchewan Rush erupted for seven goals in 7:19 to send the home team to a 24-16 loss on Saturday night at the Langley Events Centre.
The Stealth — who trailed the entire game — had cut the lead to 16-15 after three quarters before being overwhelmed at the beginning of the final period.
The 16 goals was a season-high for Vancouver.
“We want to forget the first seven minutes of that fourth quarter,” said coach Jamie Batley, who was making his debut behind the Stealth bench.
“Maybe we were going a little bit too hard and the guys got tired. We were making tired mistakes, allowing picks and those kinds of things.
“Maybe we are a little bit out of shape, maybe we got a little bit tired. We will have to fix that.”
“Up to that point, the game got away from us,” he added. “Up to that point, I thought we played great.”
The Rush were dominant to start three of the four quarters.
They scored three goals in the opening 2:23 and then another three in the first 2:21 of the second quarter.
Each time, Vancouver would battle back, making it 7-6 after one quarter and then 14-10 at the half.
The third quarter was the lone period the Stealth controlled, outscoring Saskatchewan 5-2 over those 15 minutes.
The loss dropped Vancouver to 3-8 while Saskatchewan improved to 7-3.
“That is a good team over there on the other side and if you give them a chance, a couple of feet, they are going to find a way to score,” said the Stealth’s Joel McCready, who scored four goals in the first quarter and finished with five goals and eight points.
Despite the Stealth losing their fourth straight game, McCready is optimistic good things are around the corner.
“This team, we are really close to everybody putting in a full 60. We have a lot of talent in that room and everybody still believes,” he said.
“We have seven games left and we have lots of time and we are going to get it done.”
“We have 20-something guys in that room and we are going to stick to it and get through it.”
“We just had to get out there and bust it.”
The Stealth also got big games from Rhys Duch (six goals, 11 points), Corey Small (two goals, eight points) and Jordan Durston (one goal, six points). Cliff Smith and Justin Salt had a goal apiece.
The Rush were led by Zack Greer (five goals, 11 points), Mark Matthews (two goals, 10 points), Curtis Knight (five goals, seven points) and Ben McIntosh (four goals, six points).
Saskatchewan outshot Vancouver 67-50 and won the loose ball battle handily 82-53.
Jeff Moleski led the Stealth in that department with seven while Matt Beers, Tyler Hass and McCready came up with six apiece.
Both Stealth goaltenders saw action with Tyler Richards making 18 saves on 28 shots while Eric Penney stopped 25 of 39 shots.
Vancouver is on the road this week as they travel to Buffalo to face the East Division-leading Bandits (7-4) on Friday night.