Surrendering the tying goal late in regulation could have been the kiss of death for the Vancouver Stealth.
But instead, it was Joel McCready playing hero as the Stealth went into Buffalo and picked up a huge 11-10 overtime victory, the team’s first in five National Lacrosse League games this season.
The game was played Saturday at Buffalo’s KeyBank Center.
The Bandits had forced sudden-death overtime on Mitch Jones’ goal with 22 seconds to play.
And Buffalo had the first chance to win it, but Eric Penney came up with a huge save — his 52nd of the night — before the Stealth went down the floor and McCready scored on his team’s only shot of overtime at the 2:12 mark.
Way to bring it home boys!! 😁
— Lynn (@mommabear75) January 14, 2018
“I thought we won the game two or three times there, but the guys threw it short a couple times, but Joel winning it in overtime was good for our team and obviously getting us back in the win column is something we have been waiting for,” said Stealth head coach and assistant general manager Jamie Batley.
“We fought back hard, and with Penney tonight, he gave us a chance to win, our offensive guys played well and all around our game improved.”
The win improved Vancouver to 1-4 while Buffalo fell to 2-3.
— blake milton (@blake3653) January 14, 2018
The Stealth were coming off their worst-loss in franchise history, a 24-7 debacle the previous weekend in Langley.
The loss prompted some line-up changes, with with all three players on their practice roster — Penney, Cody Teichroeb and Tyson Roe — getting promoted to the active roster and Penney getting the call between the pipes.
— Andrew suitor (@Suits20) January 14, 2018
Entering the game, the Stealth had a save percentage of .713, which was at the bottom of the league. But Penney delivered a 52-save performance (.839) and the Stealth offence scored just enough to eke out the victory.
Corey Small (four goals, four assists), Logan Schuss (three goals, four assists), Rhys Duch (two goals, two assists) and McCready (two goals, two assists) led the offence.
The game did not begin well for the Stealth as the Bandits led 3-0 after one quarter.
Vancouver responded with five goals to open the second before Buffalo tied things up for a 5-5 score at the break.
The Stealth had three separate second-half leads only to see Buffalo rally back each time before McCready came through with the overtime dagger.
Vancouver is off this week before facing a tough back-to-back the following weekend, playing in Denver on Jan. 26 and returning to host the defending champion Georgia Swarm at the Langley Events Centre on Jan. 27.