Di Miller, Colorado Mammoth Correspondent
Lacrosse is Awesome©
Featured Image Photo Credit: Steve Hissock
On Saturday April 16, 2022, the Colorado Mammoth (10-7) would head to Saskatoon to face their Western Division rivals the Saskatchewan Rush (6-10) for the final game of the series in front of 8,488 fans. This was a battle of the Best in the West vs. the Last in the West. In the previous two contests this season, the home and home series, each team had won on their home turf with the Rush taking the win at SaskTel Centre halfway into OT on February 26. Colorado would have Zed Williams and Robert Hope back in the line-up but would still be without Joey Cupido. On the other side, Eric Penney was out of the line-up for the Rush and Adam Shute who had not played for 49 days, the last time since they faced Colorado on February 20, would get the start between the pipes. The Rush were over 500 at home with a 4-3 record heading into the contest, while the Mammoth were under 500 in away games at 3-4. So, the odds were definitely in favor of Saskatchewan and at the end of 60 they would come away with the “W”. Final Score: Rush 9—Mammoth 8.
It took a few for the teams to get going in the first and it would be Colorado who would draw first blood. Eli McLaughlin (3g, 1a) from up top would find the net short side low on Shute at 3:57 and they’d get on the board 1-0. Less than 30 seconds later at 4:19 Dylan Kinnear (1g, 1a) would cut to the middle and let a low shot to go stick side doubling the score for the Mammoth. So far, Colorado had not allowed the Rush to get to the middle and their outside shots were not getting past Ward. The Rush finally got on the board when Marshall Powless (2g) from the right side, with the high release sent the shot to the low outside corner for his second career NLL goal at 6:42 and cut the lead to one 2-1. With 4:44 on the timer, Zed Williams (2g, 2a) got around Connor McClelland, fell down and was able to regain his footing, headed to the crease, dove, faked high and buried it far side low 3-1 Mammoth. Both teams were very aggressive on every LB so far. The final marker came from Saskatchewan with a nice step-down shot five-hole by Dan Lintner (2g, 1a) with 2:42 in the first. First quarter stats: SOG—Mammoth 7 Rush 16; Face-offs Mammoth 3-6 Rush 3-6; Saves—Mammoth 14 Rush 5. Score at the end of one: Mammoth 3—Rush 2.
The teams would match goals in a very low scoring second. The Rush thought they had a goal early on from Lintner at 1:20 off the rebound, when he picked up the garbage and tucked it behind Ward. But his toe was on the crease, so the challenge stood “No Goal”. There had been a delayed penalty on Colorado that would have been waved off, but it stood due to the “no goal” call and the Rush would score a beauty. Robert Church (1g, 3a) would whip a BTB near side pipe for a power-play tally at 2:54 for the equalizer 3-3. This would be his 600th career point as well. Mark Matthews (2g, 4a) would notch the go-ahead goal 6:06 with a high-to-low shot far side on Ward and their first lead in the contest. At the 6:35 mark the Mammoth had only two shots on goal. Their next shot which came from McLaughlin at 6:36 and with a great release he tied it back up 4-4. So far, four goals had been called back, one on a challenge and three on crease violations. All goals that would have been in favor of Saskatchewan. Colorado would put up the final goal before the half. Williams got the nice BTB feed from Ryan Lee, he tip toed the crease and finished it down low with a twister shot to give them the lead again with 6:53 remaining. For the remainder of the first half both net-minders would not budge. Second quarter stats: SOG—Mammoth 8 Rush 11; Face-offs Mammoth 2-5 Rush 3-5; Saves—Mammoth 9 Rush 5. Score at the end of two: Mammoth 5—Rush 4.
The fans would see only two goals in the third and both from their home team the Rush. Matthews would score top shelf from the right side 34 seconds in knotting the game at 5’s. Oddly enough the third would follow the same trend in shots on goal as the second for the Mammoth. At the 6:40 mark, Colorado had only three SOG as opposed to Saskatchewan’s seven. The two goalkeepers were standing on their heads in between the pipes with Ward facing six SOG and Shute facing 12. It would take 7:51 before the next and final marker would find twine. Lintner would notch his second while tip toeing the crease, he got Ward in an awkward spot as he was falling down, used a couple of pump fakes and dunked it for the first lead for the Rush since the 6:06 mark in the second 6-5. The back-and-forth exchange of possessions continued for the last seven and change with some extremely powerful defense on both sides. Third quarter stats: SOG—Mammoth 6 Rush 12; Face-offs Mammoth 1-3 Rush 2-3; Saves—Mammoth 10 Rush 6. Score at the end of three: Mammoth 5—Rush 6.
The final frame was a scoring frenzy in the first 2:30 with the Mammoth getting it going at 32 seconds. Williams fed the back door dish to McLaughlin for the quick stick release and his hat-trick on the night and the equalizer 6-6. The Rush came right back at 1:39 with Powless notching his second on the night with an overhand release that went five-hole on Ward for the lead once more. They’d take a two-goal lead in transition when Mike Mallory (1g) in a one-on-one let a bouncer shot go and went five-hole on Ward for his second of the season only 11 seconds later 8-6. Colorado would answer back at 2:21 when Jordan Gilles (1a) scooped the loosie in transition, sent the crossfield pass to Ryan Lee (1g, 7a) on the run and he fired it far side cutting the lead to one 8-7. The final tally in the frenzy came off the ensuing draw 11 seconds later when Holden Garlent (1g) grabbed the loosie, headed to the cage, faked the shot to open up the short side and fired it far side pipe on Ward at 2:31 increasing the lead by two 9-7 which turned out to be the GWG. Once again, the Mammoth only had three SOG at the 4:30 mark as opposed to seven by the Rush showing their offense was not performing as it had done in previous games. For the next 7:21 neither offense could penetrate the brick walls the net-minders had put up. The drought was snapped when Connor Robinson (1g, 1a) would put up the final tally with 5:09 remaining. The Mammoth would fire on Shute, but he was playing extremely well, and they couldn’t put it past him. On the other side, Ward was also not allowing the Rush to score either. With 1:05 Colorado would call a time-out to set up the final play but could not capitalize and the Rush would halt the Mammoth’s three-game winning streak. Final Score: Rush 9—Mammoth 8.
With the loss, Colorado will now have to win their final game against the Roughnecks on April 30 to hold onto first place in the West as San Diego can clinch the first spot if they win both of their last two games since they hold the tiebreaker having defeated Colorado two out of their three meetings this year. In order to do so, they will have to come out with a much better performance than they had in the game against Saskatchewan. Ward has been stellar between the pipes, but if the offense can’t put up more than eight or nine goals, that won’t cut it against the Roughnecks who have won five in a row and are averaging 14 goals per game over the last three contests.
Colorado Mammoth—SOG 31; Saves 41; FO 8-21; Assists 15; LB 58; PP 0-3
Saskatchewan Rush—SOG 50; Saves 23; FO 13-21; Assists 13; LB 78; PP 1-4
The Colorado Mammoth (10-7) have a bye week and will head north of the border for their final game of the 2021-22 season to face the Calgary Roughnecks (9-7) at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday April 30, game time 9:00 p.m. EST. Fans in the USA can see the game on ESPN+. This is the “Game of the Week” for fans in Canada and you can see the action on TSN or the TSN app.
The Saskatchewan Rush (6-10) will host the San Diego Seals (9-7) at the SaskTel Centre on Saturday April 23, game time 9:30 p.m. EST. Fans in the USA can see the game on ESPN+. This is the “Game of the Week” for fans in Canada and you can see the action on TSN or the TSN app.
Di Miller, Colorado Mammoth Correspondent
Lacrosse is Awesome©