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Half the battle: Mammoth hold on against Wings, 10-9

03/30/2013, 11:30pm EDT
By Nick Salen, Mammoth beat writer for NLL.com

Colorado wins despite 2nd half shutout, Grant, Jr. now 3rd in all-time scoring

Despite being shut out in the second half, the Colorado Mammoth (5-8) used a strong second quarter to beat the Philadelphia Wings (5-7) with a 10-9 home win before a crowd of 15,292 at Pepsi Center on Saturday night.

Down 10-4 at half, Philadelphia rallied in the second half while at the same time shutting out Colorado’s offense.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been involved in one of those,” Mammoth head coach Bob Hamley said. “No goals in the second half, [Wings goalie Brandon Miller] was really good as we got stagnant. Credit [Mammoth goalie Tye Belanger] and the defense for hunkering down and getting the stop at the end.”

Jordan McBride was atop Colorado’s offense with six points (4+2), but shared similar thoughts with his coach that the team was lucky to come away with one in the win column.

“I thought our first half, we were definitely on point, doing what we wanted to do,” McBride said. “But we’ve got to pick it up in the second half for next game.”

John Grant, Jr. finished third on the team with five points (2+3) on the night and surpassed Gary Gait (1,165) for third on the NLL all-time scoring list behind John Tavares (1,627) and Colin Doyle (1,260). Grant came into tonight’s game at 1,163, eclipsing the mark in the second quarter on an assist to McBride.

But the accomplishment remained in the passenger seat as Grant, Jr. treated Saturday just like any other game night, primarily concerned with Colorado’s offensive drought and overall performance.

“We tried everything offensively to give that one away,” Grant, Jr. said. “We’ve got to figure out what to do to be successful in the second half. That’s two weeks in a row we gave up big leads. I mean a win is a win, and we definitely needed it, but we’ve got some work to do.”

The Mammoth opened the game with three goals in the first five minutes, including two power plays, before going cold the remainder of the quarter. Philadelphia would respond with a three-goal run of their own to tie the game heading into the second quarter, but their sticks would yield silent in the following minutes.

Colorado amped up their offense in the second frame tallying seven goals to Philadelphia’s one. McBride would be responsible for three in the quarter, with single scores from Grant, Casey Powell, Joey Cupido and Adam Jones. Despite the impressive fifteen minutes, it would be the final time the Mammoth would get one past Miller.

Philadelphia charged out of the locker room with purpose as the team began to narrow their first-half deficit. Three goals between Crowley and Kevin Ross helped inch the Wings back from the brink, while they defensively kept Colorado’s shooters off the board, making it a two-goal contest going into the fourth.

Both teams had opportunities at even strength and on the power play, but Philadelphia remained resilient. With less than a minute to play, Drew Westervelt brought his team to within one. On the ensuing possession, the Wings took to full flight on a last chance opportunity. But the Mammoth defense was able to strip the ball, gain possession and call timeout to kill the final seconds.

“It’s always nice to grab a couple [wins] when you can, we could have grabbed this one we thought,” said Wings general manager and head coach Johnny Mouradian. “We played three good quarters, we let them score some easy goals especially those power play goals…but you have to look at we shut them out in the second half. We had a lot of opportunities, but we have to be better as a team.”

Philadelphia rolled into Denver after losing to Minnesota 20-11 the previous night. Despite the pair of losses and unable to secure a playoff berth, Mouradian was optimistic looking ahead in the schedule.

“We’re proud, but we can’t be satisfied,” he said. “That’s the effort we have to put in…I think where we are right now is at least we are happy our roster is now full. We missed Manney, Merrill, Mundorf. Now we just got everyone back and that’s a real good thing.”

Miller returned to action between the pipes after serving a one game suspension, stopping 40 of 50 and playing lights out against Colorado in the second half. On the other end, Belanger secured his third win of the season with 37 stops on 46 shots.

Now with a roster back to full strength, Philadelphia travels to Rochester for their third road game in a row, looking to get another step closer to punching their postseason ticket, live on CBS Sports Network at 6 p.m. ET on April 6.

Colorado will also hit the road next weekend as they battle against the West Division-leading Edmonton Rush.

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