EDMONTON - The Edmonton Rush will have to wait a little longer to push themselves above .500 for the first time since 2010.
They watched that opportunity slip away Friday as a 6-2 lead turn into a 12-10 loss to the Washington Stealth at Rexall Place, dropping Edmonton to 1-2 on the season on the heels of an 18-10 win over the same opponent on the road last weekend.
“Winning 18-10 is a fluke,” said Rush head coach and GM Derek Keenan. “It doesn't happen in this league and you can't think it's going to happen again. I think we sensed at 6-2, this is going to be easy again and they just outworked us.”
With five minutes left in the half, Washington cut into the Rush's four-goal lead with three quick strikes in a little over two-and-a-half minutes — all of which went through Aaron Bold's legs.
Mitch McMichael put in a highlight-reel between the legs, back-to-the-net goal before Lewis Ratcliffe switched hands to his off-wing and fired off an unorthodox shot. Rhys Duch followed up by scooping up a rebound off a defender's ankle and scoring to trail 6-5.
“They were decent shots,” said Bold, who was pulled in the third quarter after another three-goal run by the Stealth, while the Stealth were held scoreless for the first quarter this season. “The D played pretty well, the back end just has to step it up.”
With tempers hot, Kyle Rubisch was ejected from the game for a five-minute illegal crosschecking major, which cost the Rush the services of the reigning NLL defensive player of the year the rest of the way.
He rolled around on the floor with Stealth tough guy Matt Beers on his way out.
"We didn't respond well after that scrum where Rubisch got kicked out and you've got to regroup after things like that,” Keenan said. “That was an unfortunate (call). I don't know how you get that out of that."
But with all the concern over head shots in sports, the NLL upped the ante on such a five-minute major, tagging on a game ejection this season.
Edmonton's first goal of the second half came on the power-play with less than 10 minutes to play, as Mark Matthews dished to Ryan Ward, who meandered around a defender and hit the top corner to pull within two of Washington.
But 32 seconds after that, former Rush member Dean Hill sauntered in unmolested and scored by selling the ol' pump fake to restore the three-goal cushion.
Ward scored again before Small brought Edmonton within one of Washington with 8.3 seconds remaining to make it interesting — until Stealth captain Kyle Sorensen tossed in an empty-netter to seal the deal.
"Too little, too late,” said Small, who sits sixth in league scoring with six goals and 16 points in three games. “I think we let them rattle our cage a little bit in the first half.
“You beat a team 18-10 and you know they're going to come at you harder than they did last game. Once we got up there, we sat back and we thought it was going to be another cakewalk for us."
But Tyler Richards returned from a lower-body injury that kept him out last week to make sure it wasn't.
“T-Rex is a great goalie and he was missed last week,” said Stealth forward Lewis Ratcliffe, who was held pointless last week, but led the way with a hat-trick and four points Friday. “Our defence is very good. When we play tough and aggressive like that, our defence is tough to beat.”