Whether you were one of the 13,127 fans watching the Colorado Mammoth defeat the Georgia Swarm 14-11 inside Denver’s Pepsi Center or you were following the game on NLLTV, on Twitter or by any other means, you were treated to a thrilling grind-it-out type of game tonight.
The Mammoth knew they were facing a steep challenge hosting the defending champions who were trying to bounce back from a season-opening loss, but were able to come out with a hard-fought victory behind another great performance from their man defending the cage. Dillion Ward’s hardworking defensive efforts paired with timely offensive runs late in the ball game.
Despite being billed as a game featuring fast-paced, skilled offenses, it was the goaltenders that stole the show throughout the 1st half. Both Ward and Swarm net-minder, Mike Poulin put on constant acrobatic displays in the crease, giving 110% to ensure the ball would not cross the line and trickle into the back of the net.
For the most part, Ward stopped the sporadic attacks from the Swarms lethal forwards. Facing just 22 shots on goal, the Mammoth goalie surrendered a mere five tallies to keep his club in the game. On offense, the Mammoth struggled to get in a groove as Poulin did a fantastic job not allowing any Colorado forward to get too hot.
Ruest was the offensive star of the 1st half posting three assists and the first goal of the game with Ryan Lee, Jeremy Noble, and Ryan Benesch all adding goals themselves in the defensive battle that took place in the 1st half. Benesch’s goal in the 2nd quarter was a special one as it set loose a barrage of teddy bears on to the carpet in support of the inaugural Teddy Bear Toss.
Thousands of bears ascended onto the floor and were then donated to support A Precious Child: a local organization that assists children and families facing difficult life challenges such as abuse and neglect, crisis situations, and poverty.
The first half also saw key milestones eclipsed when Joey Cupido picked up his 500th career loose ball and Zach Greer tallied his 400th point which came by way of his late-2nd quarter assist to Noble.
The 2nd half was a half of runs. Following a Mammoth goal off the stick of defender, Greg Downing to tie the game at five within the first three minutes of 3rd quarter, the Swarm strung together three goals including a diving beauty from Lyle Thompson.
Recognizing that the game could slip away, Downing, and other defensemen such as Robert Hope and Joey Cupido cracked down on the potent Swarm offense forcing multiple loose balls with physical and tactical play, not allowing them to get too many shots on Ward. This allowed the Mammoth to slowly crawl back into the game one goal at a time until they finally tied the game at eight a piece.
Even though the Swarm answered the call yet again and regained a two-goal advantage early in the 4th, the Mammoth put together a run almost as impressive as what they did in Week 1 -not allowing the Vancouver Stealth to score for over 20 minutes. This time, they stopped the Swarm from putting one in the back of the goal for over six minutes while also tossing in six straight goals themselves to seal the much-prized home victory against a worthy opponent.
By the final buzzer, the Mammoth had defeated the Georgia Swarm 14-11, putting the Swarm at 0-2 on the young season for the first time since the 2014 campaign while pushing themselves to a commanding 2-0 start for the third time in the last four years.
Following a short six-day break for players to squeeze in a holiday celebration with their families, the Mammoth will head northwest to face the Calgary Roughnecks on December 29th at 9:00 PM EST with their heads held very high after yet another dominating showing.