Fifty-eight seconds from victory, the Vancouver Stealth instead suffered a fifth straight defeat.
Rhys Duch put the Stealth ahead 9-8 with under a minute to play but they could not hold on as the visiting Colorado Mammoth tied the game with 26 seconds to play and then won it 1:09 into sudden death overtime on Sunday night at the Langley Events Centre.
The Mammoth improved to 4-3 while the Stealth occupy the basement in the National Lacrosse League’s West Division at 2-5.
And the loss was a culmination of little mistakes which are plaguing the team.
That included rookie Brendan Fowler winning the face-off off Duch’s goal, but instead of circling back and letting the offence set up to milk the 30-second shot clock, he decided to go for the insurance goal. But Dillon Ward made the save, the Mammoth collected the ball and Zack Greer tied things up before Steven Adams scored in overtime.
The Stealth never gained control of the ball in the extra period while the Mammoth scored on their third crack.
“Obviously we want (Fowler) to circle back out and kill the clock. It probably doesn’t matter because they are probably going to run the same play when they get the ball back,” Batley said.
“Maybe we get a reset, maybe we get the ball back and kill it but at the end of the day we can’t go back on maybes. He has to learn from that mistake.”
Batley added that the game was not lost on that one mistake.
“I am not going to blame the game on him. We have been making a lot of small mistakes that we really shouldn’t be making at this level, so guys have to look in the mirror and cut down on the small mistakes,” he said.
The Stealth only trailed 51 seconds and that came after Colorado’s Creighton Reid opened the scoring.
Vancouver responded with goals from Corey Small, Peter McFetridge and Logan Schuss before Jacob Ruest cut the lead to 3-2 after one quarter.
Adams had the lone goal of the second period to make it 3-3 at the half.
With a five-minute power play early in the third, Schuss and Billings scored 29 seconds apart to give the Stealth the lead again. Colorado’s Joey Cupido and Schuss then traded goals on that same power play before Duch and Greer closed the quarter with goals for their respective teams.
Cupido and Adams struck early in the fourth to tie the score at seven and then Vancouver’s Joel McCready and Colorado’s Mike Mallory exchanged goals to make it 8-8 with five minutes to play.
Schuss led the Stealth with three goals and four assists but admitted the team was slow to start coming off a bye week.
“Definitely a little rust. Guys were gripping the sticks a little bit,” he said.
“Our defence kind of bailed us out a little bit there and we got into a bit of a groove in the second half.”
“That is a good quality goalie across the way from us but we would definitely like to have more than three at the half.”
Despite the loss, he said there was plenty to like from the game.
There are a lot of good things to take away (from this game) and a few negative. But what I really liked was the grit, the determination from a lot of the guys,” Schuss said.
“Guys selling their bodies out to get to loose balls, that is something we really pride ourselves on. I think we showed it tonight.”
Batley was also happy for the most part with his team’s defensive performance.
“I think 5-on-5 we played a great game,” he said.
The Mammoth scored one power-play goal, twice with an extra attacker and twice more while short-handed.
“It is the little things that we already know about that we are not doing. We need to make sure they are doing what is coached.”
In addition to Schuss’s seven points, Duch had two goals and four assists while Billings and Small each had a goal and four helpers.
Stealth goaltender Tye Belanger earned first star honours after stopping 43 shots as Colorado outshot Vancouver 53-47.
Several of his stops were highlight reel saves which kept the Stealth in the game.
Next up for Vancouver is a road game in Calgary on Saturday night.