A formidable rivalry has brewed between the Colorado Mammoth and Edmonton Rush in recent years. The latest chapter tilted in Colorado’s favor, downing the visiting Rush (1-2) 11-7 at Pepsi Center Saturday night. Despite blizzard-like conditions, 14,055 strong were on hand to witness the Mammoth victory.
Colorado coach Bob Hamley (center) has led the Mammoth to a 5-0 start. (Photo Credit: Michael Martin)
A formidable rivalry has brewed between the Colorado Mammoth and Edmonton Rush in recent years. The most recent chapter tilted in Colorado’s favor, downing the visiting Rush (1-2) 11-7 at Pepsi Center Saturday night. Despite blizzard-like conditions, 14,055 strong were on hand to witness the Mammoth victory.
One year ago it was a different situation in Denver coming out of Week 5; the team struggled to put points on the board and capitalize on key factors on the floor. Combined with bad luck and inconsistency on both ends of the field, it was a recipe for chaos, sitting at the bottom of the West Division amidst a home game losing streak that stretched over two seasons. By now it all seems like a distant nightmare, already tying last season’s win total.
The win ties a franchise for Colorado record set in 2005 for a 5-0 start with the second victory over Edmonton in two weeks. This time around proved much harder with the game play by both defenses, making scoring difficult to come by.
“Both teams were very good defensively and the goaltending was very good,” Mammoth head coach Bob Hamley commented. “We were fortunate in the fourth quarter to get a couple timely goals and pull away a little bit.”
John Grant Jr once again led the Mammoth offense in a three goal, five assist outing. Just behind him were rookies Jordan McBride and NLL Rookie of the Month Adam Jones with three goals and one assist each. Jones had a key goal midway through the fourth to secure Colorado the lead for good.
“To be 5-0, to have that beginning my career coming off a knee injury…just can’t get any better,” Jones said.
Scott Evans led the Rush with 3 goals and one assist, with Aaron Ward right behind on a two goal, one assist night.
Goaltending was decisive tonight from both ends. With everyone talking about the guys between the pipes as well as their defensive matchups, each side gave immense credit to the other.
“Edmonton’s defense, big, strong and kept us at bay for most of the game,” Hamley added. “We did the same, credit to our defense, they talked about earning respect in this league too. I thought they did a good job tonight keeping the shooters out and giving Chris some help as well.”
Rush Head Coach and General Manager Derek Keenan stated despite the penalties taking a bite out of momentum from both sides, in the end it came down to executing on the big plays.
“We had a lot of chances,” Keenan mentioned. “Levis played well and I thought our ‘D’ was strong, just kind of came down to those last five minutes.”
For Colorado, Levis recorded 44 saves on 51 shots.
“I thought the guys did a really great job of allowing me see the ball tonight,” Levis noted. “Those guys are a great team, a lot of good offensive weapons. I thought we minimized their good looks tonight and I thought we did a good job picking up rebounds when the rebounds were there.”
Reigning Defensive Player of the Week Aaron Bold played opposite in a 35 save outing on 46 faced. In all, both netminders played the major role in keeping the contest neck and neck until the fourth quarter.
“I think we played very, very well. Altogether, offense was moving the ball very well, defense we were doubling at the right times and for the most part we played solid defense.”
McBride drew first blood for Colorado in the opening minutes of play in addition to a power-play goal by Grant later in the opening stanza. Edmonton’s Evans capitalized on a power-play opportunity as well, and a breakaway score by John LaFontaine on transition kept the game tied at 2-2. It would remain a back and forth battle at both even strength and man-down, with Colorado ultimately taking the 4-3 advantage at halftime. It was the same tale heading into the final quarter, down 7-6 Edmonton’s Evans tied the game up with just under nine minutes to play, but a key goal from behind the net by Jones climactically settled the tone in the final minutes for the Mammoth, which broke the tie and followed up with three additional scores by the home team to seal the deal.
“It’s a game of momentum,” Hamley went on. “We just happened to get the next one. I think that was the big thing, Jones’ was obviously a big goal but we talk about getting that next one and keep it going. Edmonton didn’t back down and kept coming.”
The teams totaled 44 penalty minutes with both squads capitalizing only twice on the man-up opportunities. Edmonton has held the edge in Denver in recent visits, taking wins from three out of the last four meetings coming into tonight, but in the end came out on the short end of the defensive chess match. The team will continue their four game road trip as they play Minnesota next Friday night.
The win moves Colorado up three games in the West Division over Calgary; they will celebrate for now, but will take the upcoming bye week to replenish and gear up before traveling to Minnesota to take on the Swarm Saturday February 18th.