Di Miller, Correspondent Colorado Mammoth
Lacrosse is Awesome©
Featured Image Photo Credit: Colorado Mammoth
The Colorado Mammoth (3-2) headed to Halifax, Nova Scotia to face the Thunderbirds (4-0) in a game that many thought would bring down one of the only two undefeated teams in the league. The Nest was filled with 7,623 Thunderbirds fans who were prepped and ready to watch their team take on the mighty Mammoth. Both net-minders, two of the best in the league: Dillon Ward for Colorado with an .832 Sv% and 8.74 GAA; and Warren Hill for Halifax with an .810 Sv% and 8.67 GAA would go head to head tonight and between the two would face a combined total of 116 shots on goal in the contest. Assistant Captain Graeme Hossack would score the first and last goals of the game for the Thunderbirds. At the face-off dot, Colorado had Tim Edwards taking the majority and he won 8 of 22 FO’s against Jake Withers whose sitting at .750 FO% in league. Although the game was low scoring, it was action packed. Halifax would outscore Colorado 6-2 in the second half and the Mammoth could not rebound. Final Score: Thunderbirds 12—Mammoth 9.
Ryan Benesch would score his 441st career goal surpassing Lewis Ratcliff moving him to 9th in All-Time goals scored in the NLL with 6:58 remaining in the fourth quarter.
The Mammoth got it going quick with Tim Edwards winning the opening face-off, Warren Jeffrey grabbing the loosie; the flip toss to Joey “Lightning” Cupido (1g) and with a couple of pump fakes, he’d dunk it past Hill only 14 seconds in. This would start a four-goal run for Colorado with Chris Wardle (2g, 2a) notching back-to-back goals, the first at the 53 second mark off the screen, his underhand shot from the wing would roll past Hill; and the second came at 2:54 off the rebound, Wardle grabbed the loose ball and squeaked it in between Hill and the pipe. Seven minutes ticked off the timer before Colorado notched the last of their run. Kyle Killen (1g, 2a) got the feed from Wardle and ripped the bouncer shot far side at 5:24 giving them the 4-0 lead. Halifax would halt the run with a nice breakaway goal from Graeme Hossack (2g) with 6:42 left in the quarter off the interception, he sprinted down the floor and with the flick of the wrist he tickled the twine over the left shoulder of Ward getting the Thunderbirds on the board 4-1. Colorado would answer back about a minute and a half later off the back hand feed from Killen to Ryan Lee (3g, 2a), on the two man game back door cut top corner putting them back up 5-1 with 5:19 remaining. But the Thunderbirds would close the gap to two: first when Captain Cody Jamieson (2g, 2a) blew it past Ward on the power play tally with 4:15 left; and another with the EA and 15 seconds left in the quarter, Halifax in front of the net had some great ball movement and Stephen Keogh (1g, 1a) on the door step went low to high on Ward. The Mammoth were ahead in SOG 17-15; but the Thunderbirds led in LB 19-16 and FO 6-9. Score at the end of one: Mammoth 5—Thunderbirds 3.
The second quarter started off after three minutes of scoreless lacrosse and it would be Colorado notching the first 3:16 in. Lee got the cross field pass from Eli McLaughlin avoided the crease and with the dive and the quick catch and release dunked it in as he flew through the crease for a short-handed goal 6-3 Mammoth. On both ends of the floor Ward and Hill stood strong while their opponents fired on cage and held off rubber hitting twine for over eight minutes. Eight seconds into the power-play Lee would notch his hat-trick goal again with another feed from McLaughlin with the backdoor cut, right before Hill made the slide, Lee found twine glove slide at with 3:37 left in the half. But just like that, Halifax came alive and went on a run scoring three goals in under 60 seconds. Brad Gillies (1g) got it going with the outlet pass from Hill and a little shake-n-bake shoulder shrug quick low shot on Ward with 2:00 minutes left; then with the extra attacker, Clarke Petterson (1g, 1a) buried the quick stick on the door step 28 seconds later; and Eric Fannell (2g) closed it out with a nice sidearm shot around the defender 25 seconds later putting them to within one 7-6 to close out the second. Halifax led in all categories: SOG 16-15; LB 21-12; and FO 9-15. Score at the end of two: Mammoth 7—Thunderbirds 6.
Halifax had found their groove and took it into the third notching one quickly only 49 seconds in. Fannell who closed out the second opened the third off the loosie he scooped in front of the net, hopped and dunked it in stick side for the equalizer 7-7. The fans saw another scoring drought and net-minder battle for the next eight minutes before Colorado would notch their lone goal in the frame and their first since the goal by Lee almost 11 minutes prior with 3:37 left in the second. It was a nice tic-tac-toe play with the cross the crease pass to Jeff Wittig (2g) for the dunk at 8:26 and the go ahead power-play goal 8-7. But the lead was short lived as #88 Jamieson would rip one over the top through the defenders past Ward top corner to tie the game 8-8 and a whole lotta “8’s” going on. With 3:11 left in the frame, Ryan Benesch (2g, 1a) would get the feed from Petterson on the door step and slam dunk it home for the first Thunderbird lead of the contest 9-8 and they never looked back. Halifax led in SOG: 14-11; LB 27-18; and FO 14-20. Score at the end of three: Thunderbirds 8—Mammoth 7.
The fourth quarter was once again dominated by Halifax outscoring the Mammoth 3-1. Ryan Benesch would score his 441st career goal moving him the 9th All-Time in goals scored in the NLL at the 6:58 mark of the fourth. It was a sweet bounce shot far side on Ward 10-8 and it gave them the spark they needed. Chris Boushy (1g, 1a) notched his lone goal with a twister shot L-R-L fake high to low dunking it inside the post glove side with 4:49 remaining to make the score 11-8. Colorado would get one more when Wittig got the rebound off the glass on the crease, he slam dunked it in with 38.3 seconds left 11-9 Thunderbirds. In a last ditch effort Mammoth Head Coach Pat Coyle pulled Dillon Ward, Hossack got the turnover and trotted down the floor for the empty netter with 11.1 seconds on the clock. Final Score: Thunderbirds 12—Mammoth 9.
The Mammoth came out strong in the first half unlike their other victories this season; while the Thunderbirds who had dominated in the first half came alive in the second. Unfortunately for Colorado, they couldn’t figure out how to get back in the game, while Halifax put the pieces together and completely dominated in the second half.
There were a total of 34 penalty minutes between the two teams; Colorado was 2-5 on man-up situations; while Halifax was 1-2.
Colorado: 57 SOG; 12 SOFF; 60 LB; 8-25 FO; 2-5 PP; 14 PIM
Halifax: 59 SOG; 20 SOFF; 83 LB; 17-25FO; 1-2 PP; 20 PIM
Colorado Dillon Ward: 58 SOG; 47 Saves; 11 GA; .810 Sv%
Halifax Warren Hill: 57 SOG; 48 Saves; 9 GA; .842 Sv%
The Colorado Mammoth (3-2) head to Vancouver, BC to take on their West Division rivals the Vancouver Warriors (1-4) at Rogers Arena for a rematch on Friday January 17, game time 10:30 p.m. EST.
The Halifax Thunderbirds (4-0) will play host to another team from the West, the San Diego Seals (1-3) on Saturday January 18, game time 6:00 p.m. EST.
Di Miller, Correspondent Colorado Mammoth
Lacrosse is Awesome©