Fifty-nine saves from rookie goaltender Eric Penney helped the Vancouver Stealth snap a lengthy-losing streak and get back into a playoff position.
The Stealth fell behind 2-0 before reeling off a string of five straight goals to defeat the New England Black Wolves 11-9 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. on Sunday afternoon.
The win came on the heels off a 14-7 loss to the Toronto Rock on Friday night at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre. In that game, the Stealth squandered a 3-1 first quarter lead, surrendering 13 of the final 17 goals for their sixth straight defeat.
The road trip split gives Vancouver a 5-10 record, a half game ahead of the Calgary Roughnecks (5-11) for the final playoff spot in the National Lacrosse League’s West Division.
The two teams close out the regular season on May 2 at the Langley Events Centre. But before that, the Stealth host the Rochester Knighthawks (10-4) on Saturday at the LEC and visit the Buffalo Bandits (8-7) on April 25.
Against Toronto, the NLL’s top team, Vancouver could not build on an early 3-1 lead as the Rock went on a 7-1 run from the late first quarter to halftime.
Tyler Digby (two goals), Corey Small (one goal, two assists), Ilija Gajic (one goal, one assist) and Rhys Duch (three assists) led the Stealth attack.
Vancouver had the decisive edge in the face-off circle, 16-9, but lost the loose ball battle 82-66.
The Rock’s Brett Hickey torched his former team with seven goals and 11 points.
And the Stealth offence got balanced scoring to beat the Black Wolves, as all of their forwards found the scoresheet, led by Joel McCready’s hat trick and one assist.
Vancouver was up 3-2 after one quarter and 5-4 at the half. They pulled away in the third quarter with a 4-2 advantage and Penney stopped 19 of 22 shots in the fourth quarter as the Black Wolves tried to rally.
Duch (two goals, four assists), Digby (one goal, four assists), Corey Small (two goals, two assists). Logan Schuss (one goal, two assists), Cliff Smith (one goal, one assist) and Justin Salt (one goal, one assist) all found the back of the net.
And Mitch McMichael continued his dominance on face-offs, winning 18 of 24 draws.
He is now third in the league, winning 192 of the 378 face-offs (50.8 per cent), among players who have taken at least 100 draws.