DENVER – After not winning at home for almost two seasons, the Colorado Mammoth are on a nice home winning streak.
The Mammoth won their second game in a row at the Pepsi Center on Saturday night in a 7-6 affair with the Edmonton Rush.
“You don’t see many games go 7-6,” said Colorado head coach Bob Hamley. “The defenses were very good, goaltending on both ends were really good.
“It was a real defensive battle, and it might not be what the fans want, but I know they are happy with the win.”
Colorado and Edmonton are fighting for the final postseason spot in the Western Division with the Rush holding the slight advantage, as they have four wins this year while the Mammoth have three.
However, Colorado controls their own destiny, as they play four games in the final three weeks of the season while Edmonton only plays two.
The Mammoth and the Rush will meet for the third time in nine days next Saturday in Edmonton with the winner of that game likely to go to the postseason.
Edmonton and Colorado played on Friday night at Rexall Place in Edmonton in the first half of their weekend home-and-home series.
The Rush looked like the better team on the floor, and it eventually showed on the scoreboard as the Rush picked up the 14-10 win.
Scott Evans led Edmonton on Friday with four goals and two assists while Corey Small had an eight-point night, finishing with three goals and five assists.
On Saturday, Edmonton cut the Colorado lead to one three times in the fourth quarter, including doing it with a Bill Greer goal with 41 seconds left, but every time, the Mammoth answered back, extending the lead back to two and they eventually came out as the victors.
Joel Dalgarno finished with two goals for Colorado while John Grant Jr. had two goals and two assists. Grant finishes the weekend with 10 points as he had four goals and two assists on Friday in Edmonton.
Ryan Ward led Edmonton with two goals, both coming in the Rush’s run in the fourth.
Colorado gave Edmonton the chance to take the early lead in the contest as the Mammoth took three penalties in the first five minutes, but the Rush weren’t able to capitalize on the opportunity, that also included 1:22 of a 5-on-3 power play.
“It is one of those things that can actually hurt momentum, especially if you don’t score,” Keenan said of the early power play chances. “You try and get into an offensive rhythm, it is a lot of half-floor lacrosse and the defense doesn’t get on the floor and we didn’t execute.
"We had some good shots and [Colorado goaltender Chris] Levis made some good saves, but we had an opportunity to get up early and we didn’t.”
Levis finished the game with 34 saves on 40 shots for Colorado and stepped up big throughout the night by making several key stops on Edmonton breakaways.
“I felt the ball good and saw the ball good tonight,” Levis said. “They (Edmonton) are a transitioning team; they’ve been doing it to everyone all year so they did tonight what they are good at, moving the ball up the floor with speed and getting odd-man situations. Luckily, we were able to cut back their goal scoring.”
Matt Disher was just as good on the other side of the floor for Edmonton, as he stopped 43 of Colorado’s 50 shots.
“I thought our goalie played well all weekend,” Keenan said of Disher. “The goaltending was good and the defense was tough on both ends. There wasn’t a lot of stuff in front of the net. When for the most part you are taking perimeter shots, goalies at this level are going to make saves most of the time.”
The Rush took a 1-0 lead into the second quarter after Small scored late in the first. The Mammoth responded as Nick Carlson found the back of the cage 2:16 into the stanza to tie the game, and Dalgarno scored nearly five minutes later to give Colorado their first lead.
The Mammoth lead held until the Rush’s Scott Stewart scored with 2:33 left in the quarter, but Dalgarno scored his second of the game 31 seconds later to give Colorado the 3-2 lead at halftime.
Just like in the first half, the second half began with a defensive battle as both offenses were turned away early on by Disher and Levis.
Edmonton’s Brett Mydske finally retied the game with 5:15 left in the third, but Colorado’s Alex Gajic countered 1:12 later after he picked up a rebound in front of Disher and scored. Gajic had four goals and two assists on Friday.
In the fourth quarter, Grant scored twice, but each time Ward was there to answer for Edmonton, keeping the Rush within scoring distance.
With 1:36 left in the game, Colorado got the last goal they needed as Jed Prossner received a nice pass in the middle of the slot from Grant and walked in and beat Disher for the eventual game-winning goal.
Greer scored with 41 seconds remaining to make it a one-goal game again, but Colorado held on for their third win of the season.
Edmonton had several good scoring chances in the final 30 seconds, including hitting the goal post with less than 15 ticks to play.
Colorado has two more big games next week, as they’ll play the Western-leading Roughnecks in Calgary on Friday before playing the Rush again in Edmonton on Saturday.
After Saturday’s game with Colorado, Edmonton will close out their regular season on April 16 at home against the Toronto Rock.
Now here is a look at the other six games in Week 13 of the National Lacrosse League season.
Roughnecks and Swarm split weekend series
Both the Calgary Roughnecks and the Minnesota Swarm got what they wanted out of their home-and-home weekend series.
The Roughnecks defeated the Swarm 15-12 on Friday at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary to clinch the top seed in the Western Division for the playoffs.
On Saturday, the Swarm earned the third postseason bid from the West with a 13-8 victory over the Riggers at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.
On Friday, Minnesota held a 7-4 lead at halftime, but Calgary used eight third-quarter goals to help the Roughnecks pick up the win. Dane Dobbie led the Riggers in the game with three goals and three assists, while Jeff Shatler also had a hat trick.
“We stopped communicating, we stopped pressing and we stopped being supportive of the ball,” said Minnesota assistant coach Joe Sullivan of the third quarter in Friday’s game.
“We allowed them to isolate and get the one-on-ones, they were looking for down low and we didn’t react. We left our goalie out to dry after he played a phenomenal first half.”
On Saturday, the Swarm and the Roughnecks were tied at six entering the final quarter, but this time it was Minnesota who had the big stanza, as they scored seven times in the final 15 minutes.
Andrew Suiter finished with four goals in the game for the Swarm, with three of his red-lighters coming in the fourth. Tyler Hass and Aaron Wilson both finished with two goals in the contest for Minnesota.
Calgary has two games left in the regular season, both against the Colorado Mammoth. Calgary will host Colorado on April 8 before closing out their regular season on April 15 in Denver.
Next week, Minnesota will play at the Washington Stealth.
Rock get revenge over the Stealth
Stephan Leblanc scored 5:18 into overtime to lift the Toronto Rock to the 13-12 victory over the Washington Stealth on Friday at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.
“I thought we played with a lot of energy and determination,” said Rock head coach Troy Cordingley after the game. “We played real hard. We worried about the process, not about the goal. We had to take care of the little things.”
Leblanc finished with three goals on the evening, while teammate Kasey Beirnes also had a hat trick. Colin Doyle and Garrett Billings both had two goals and five assists for Toronto.
Lewis Ratcliff led Washington with three goals and three assists, Rhys Duch had two goals and two assists, and goaltender Tyler Richards made 53 saves on 66 shots.
The Rock and Stealth met in last season’s championship game, with Washington prevailing for their first title.
Both teams played on Saturday, as Toronto played at Philadelphia while Washington was in Buffalo.
Wings use six goal fourth to top Rock
The Philadelphia Wings used six fourth-quarter goals to defeat the Toronto Rock 12-11 and keep their postseason hopes alive on Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
Drew Westervelt led Philly’s charge in the fourth with two early goals to ignite the Wings’ run. Westervelt finished with three goals and three assists.
Brendan Mundorf also had a good game for the Wings, as he finished with three goals and one assist.
Colin Doyle and Aaron Pascas both finished with three goals for Toronto, while Garrett Billings, Blaine Manning and Stephan Leblanc finished with one goal and four assists each.
The victory for the Wings puts them just one game behind the Boston Blazers for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Division. Philadelphia will get their chance to close that gap next week when they play at Boston.
Toronto has two games left in their season, next Friday vs. Buffalo and on April 16 at Edmonton.
Stealth use OT winner to defeat hot Bandits squad
The Washington Stealth scored three unanswered goals, including the game winner in overtime to top the Buffalo Bandits 10-9 on Saturday in front of 18,690 in attendance at HSBC Arena in Buffalo.
Cam Sedgwick was the hero in the extra frame for Washington as he scored with an outside shot 5:14 into the period. Sedgwick also added two assists in the contest.
The loss ends a four-game winning streak for Buffalo while Washington has now won four of their last six contests.
Lewis Ratcliff and Rhys Duch led the Stealth attack as Ratcliff finished with three goals and one assist while Duch ended with three goals and four assists.
Brendan Thenhaus led Buffalo on the scoresheet with three goals while Tracey Kelusky finished with two goals and two assist.
Even though Angus Goodleaf earned the loss for Buffalo, he played great in the cage for the Bandits as he stopped 46 shots.
Washington’s Matt Roik was equally as good in net as he finished with 48 saves on 57 shots.
Next Saturday, Washington will host Minnesota at Comcast Arena in Everett, Wash., while Buffalo will play at Toronto with the top seed in Eastern Division likely on the line.
Knighthawks secure postseason berth, Blazers lose fifth in a row
The Boston Blazers continue their freefall in the Eastern Division standings.
The Rochester Knighthawks stuffed the Blazers offense all game and ran away with a 19-8 victory on Saturday night at TD Garden in Boston.
Jordan Hall led the Knighthawks offense with four goals while Craig Point, Cory Vitarelli and Shawn Williams all finished with hat tricks. Shawn Evans finished with a seven point night as he scored two goals and added five assists.
For Boston, Dan Dawson, Casey Powell and Kevin Buchanan led the Blazers, as each finished with two-goal nights.
The victory secures a postseason spot for the Rochester Knighthawks, while Boston has now lost five games in a row.
If the season ended today, the Blazers would make the postseason, but with the Philadelphia Wings just one game behind them, it puts the pressure on the Blazers to keep hold of that spot in their final two games.
Boston will have the chance to increase their lead over Philadelphia when they host the Wings next Saturday at TD Garden.
Rochester will play two games next week, on Saturday at home against Buffalo and on Sunday afternoon at Philadelphia.
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