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Mammoth Battle In Home Stretch

04/09/2003, 2:12am EDT
By National Lacrosse League

The Colorado Mammoth is on a three-game winning streak. Team captain Gary Gait has just set a new National Lacrosse League record for most goals in a single season. The 8-7 Mammoth has climbed back into the top spot in the NLL?s Eastern Division ? in a tie with the Philadelphia Wings.

The Toronto Rock has already clinched a playoff spot, winning the Northern Division with an 11-4 record to date. More than 16,000 fans pack the Air Canada Centre on average and the Rock?s 6-1 home record is testament to the power of the hometown crowd.

The implications of this Sunday?s Colorado Mammoth-Toronto Rock season finale are, well, mammoth.

The National Lacrosse League?s playoff season is looming and the scramble for playoff berths has become a frenzy. The combined loss by the Philadelphia Wings and win by the Colorado Mammoth over the weekend not only leave the league?s Eastern Division championship up for grabs, it highlights the pushing and shoving that will take place this weekend for the remaining playoff spots.

Can the Mammoth make the playoffs? There are literally 64 different scenarios to consider.

The bottom line: In the final week of the NLL season, a win over the Toronto Rock Sunday would send the Colorado Mammoth to the NLL playoffs in its first year in Denver. A Mammoth win would, at the least, give the team a wild card berth.

Combined with a Mammoth win in Toronto, a win over the 8-7 Philadelphia Wings by the streaking 11-4 Rochester Knighthawks -- currently on a four-game winning streak -- would give the Mammoth the Eastern Division championship and an opening round game at Pepsi Center.

A Mammoth loss in Toronto doesn?t spell the end of the season, but the team?s playoff chances are then thrown into a complicated mix of weekend game scenarios beyond Mammoth control:

Buffalo (12-3) must defeat Calgary (8-7) Friday night, and
Ottawa (4-11) must defeat Columbus (7-8) Saturday night, and
Vancouver (12-3) must defeat Albany (7-8) Saturday night.
The Mammoth will know by Saturday night where it stands in the race for the playoffs. As, literally, the final game of the NLL?s regular season, the best has been saved for last.

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