The Vancouver Stealth trailed for virtually the entire game, but none of that matters after they posted a come-from-behind 14-13 overtime victory.
Lewis Ratcliff scored the game-winner early in sudden-death overtime. With the shot clock winding down, Ratcliff scooped up the loose ball and whipped it off the far post and just in.
The Stealth were hosting the Colorado Mammoth on Jan. 17 in a rematch of Vancouver’s National Lacrosse League season opener on Jan. 4. The Mammoth won that game in Denver 13-12, but with the venue changing to the Langley Events Centre, it was the Stealth coming out on top.
The Mammoth had a goal in overtime waved off because of a crease violation.
The Mammoth never trailed in the game, scoring on their first shot and jumping out to a 3-0 lead before the game was even five minutes old.
But the Stealth battled back, finally tying the game at seven in the third quarter and then again at 10 early in the fourth. From there, the teams traded goals with Vancouver’s Cliff Smith forcing overtime with 48 seconds to play.
Ratcliff, who finished with two goals and five assists, said it wasn’t ideal, but the important thing is the team won.
“They got off to a quick start and we battled back but every time we scored, they seemed to score right back,” he said.
“It took us until the last play of the game to score and obviously it is not the way we wanted to do it, but we will take the win.
“Wins are hard to come by in this league.”
Ratcliff also surpassed the 900-point plateau in his 11-year NLL career. He now has 902 points.
The Mammoth received hat tricks from both Sean Pollock (three goals, four assists), Drew Westervelt (three goals, four assists) and John Grant Jr. (three goals, three assists) as well as two goals and four assists from Adam Jones.
“We were a little bit too loose defensively at the beginning,” Ratcliff said.
“They have some great offensive players and really good shooters. You let those guys shoot from the outside and they are going to bury some.”
Playing from behind all night, Ratcliff said the team just had to simplify their offensive strategy.
“We were trying to do too much; we simplified a little bit and move the ball and some shots started going in,” he said.
Ratcliff said the Stealth never got down on themselves.
“Ninety per cent of the games in this league are one-goal games so you know it is going to be a tight one regardless if you are down three in the beginning,” he said. “We just had to try and battle back and take the chances when you get them.”
In addition to Ratcliff’s seven-point night, Rhys Duch had two goals and six assists, Cody Bremner had three goals and three assists and Tyler Digby had three goals.
Alex Gajic (one goal, two assists) and Ilja Gajic (one goal, one assist) had the other Vancouver goals.
Jeff Moleski (three assists), Chris O’Dougherty (two assists) and Justin Salt (one assist) also hit the score sheet. Goaltender Tyler Richards chipped in with two assists as well as making 31 saves.
At the other end, Dillon Ward stopped 39 shots in the losing cause.
The Stealth improved to 2-1 on the season and the team is in Calgary on Jan. 18.
Their next home game at the LEC is Jan. 25 versus Edmonton.