Langley – The Vancouver Stealth kept their playoff hopes alive with a 14-12 victory over the Saskatchewan Rush on Saturday night at the Langley Events Centre. Coming into the game, the road team won both contests in the season series as the two West rivals were even at 1-1 after the first two games. Tyler Richards played in goal for the Stealth, while the Rush countered with Aaron Bold.
The Stealth opened the scoring at 1:47 with a transition goal from Chris O’Dougherty. Tyler Richards flipped a pass to O’Dougherty at centre and raced down the floor to beat Bold between the legs. Richards had the only assist on O’Dougherty’s first goal of the season. At the 3:43 mark, Joel McCready put away his 24th goal of the season to make it a 2-0 score. After receiving a pass from Rhys Duch near the Rush crease, McCready outwaited an outstretched Aaron Bold and flipped the ball into the gaping net. After seven minutes of scoreless action, Logan Schuss notched his 24th marker of the campaign. After good ball movement around the perimeter, Schuss took a pass in the middle of the floor and fired a low shot past the right leg of Bold to make it a three goal advantage. Billings and Duch had the assists. After Ben McIntosh got the Rush on the board with 30 seconds remaining, Logan Schuss whipped in his second of the quarter with just two seconds left on the clock from Duch and McCready to make it 4-1 after 15 minutes.
In the second quarter, Garrett Billings scored a power play goal with a shot that beat Bold over the left arm to put the Stealth up 5-1. Duch and Schuss got the helpers. 23 seconds later, McCready registered his second goal of the game with a long range shot that found room five-hole on the Rush goaltender. Duch and Billings were in on the assists. On the ensuing faceoff, Kyle Rubisch went down the floor and beat Richards to bring the Rush within four goals. However, at 4:27, McCready kept the hot stick going firing in a long range shot to the top left corner for the Stealth’s seventh goal of the half. Schuss and Corey Small had the assists. During a Rush power play, Mark Matthews got that goal right back scoring his first of the game to make it a 7-3 Stealth lead with just over five minutes to play. With 3:40 remaining in the second half, Robert Church scored on a two-man advantage power play to bring his squad to within three goals. With time winding down, Rhys Duch scored a buzzer beating goal with the extra attacker, as his shot got past Bold with 0.5 seconds on the clock. Schuss had the only assist on Duch’s 41st goal of the season. At the half, Vancouver led 8-4 despite being outshot 26-25.
To begin the second half, the Rush came out of the gates getting consecutive goals from Church and Matthews to make it an 8-6 score. With seven minutes to go, Schuss scored the Stealth’s first goal of the third quarter on a bounce shot that snuck past Bold and capped off the hat-trick for the Ladner native. Small and Billings had the helpers. With less than five minutes to play, Small took a pass in transition from Justin Salt and buried his 31st goal of the season. With the tally, Small continued his streak of scoring a goal in every single game in 2016. At 11:34, Schuss made it three straight Stealth goals, as he let go of a perfectly placed bounce shot to the back of the net for his fourth of the evening. Duch and McCready had the assists. With 1:33 to play in the third quarter, Chris Corbeil stole a loose ball and scored on a breakaway to make it an 11-7 game in favour of the Stealth. After 45 minutes, Vancouver led 11-7, but were being outshot 45-38.
For a second straight quarter, Robert Church and Mark Matthews scored back-to-back for Saskatchewan to get to within a pair of goals. After Rhys Duch and Mark Matthews exchanged goals less than 20 seconds apart from one other, Small notched his second of the quarter to give the Stealth a 13-10 advantage. Small and Jarrett Toll had the assists on Duch’s tally, while Billings and Ian Hawksbee helped out on the Small marker. With 7:12 remaining, Curtis Knight got on the board for the Rush closing the gap to 13-11 for Vancouver. After Matthews scored with the goaltender pulled with under two minutes to play, Joel McCready scored his fourth of the game to make it 14-12 final for the Stealth. Schuss and Billings had the assists.
With the win, the Stealth take the season series against the Rush 2-1 and remain in the hunt for the playoffs. Logan Schuss was named the game’s first star recording four goals and four assists, while Tyler Richards was the second star stopping 47 of 59 shots. Joel McCready was the third star with a four goal effort.
The Stealth finish off their regular season schedule with back-to-back road games next weekend. On Friday, April 29 they take on the Colorado Mammoth at 6:30pm, while a night later are in Georgia to take on the Swarm at 7:05pm.
STEALTH NOTES: FINAL SCORE: Stealth 14 – Rush 12, SHOTS ON GOAL: Stealth 59 – Rush 54 LOOSE BALLS: Rush 70 – Stealth 64, FACE-OFFS: Rush 15-28 – Stealth 13-28, POWERPLAY: Stealth 1-3, Rush 5-8.