The Edmonton Rush defeated the Colorado Mammoth with a 13-10 road win before a crowd of 15,596 at Pepsi Center on Saturday night to kick off the 2014 NLL season.
Edmonton earned their first win in a season opener since 2007 by holding on after a late Colorado charge as the Mammoth had pulled within one goal with two minutes left in the fourth quarter.
The Rush capitalized on six goals in the second quarter and added three more to start the second half, while holding the Mammoth to three total scores in that 30-minute span.
“We were a little sluggish coming out of the gate,” Edmonton general manager and head coach Derek Keenan said. “I think we were a bit tentative and a bit rusty there…our defense kind of got us going, created some turnovers and we got running the floor pretty well and we started executing our offense pretty good…all in all you come in here the first week, it’s nice to get a win.”
It did not take long for Colorado to get on the board, as Jamie Lincoln put the Mammoth up 1-0 just 36 seconds into the game. The home team would add three more in the opening frame to take a 4-2 advantage, but it would be all Edmonton in the following 15 minutes. Zack Greer scored his first of the night 39 seconds into the second quarter, the first of six in that quarter for the Rush to give the road team a 8-6 lead going into the half.
“All the good things we did to get to 4-1 we forgot and continued to do it,” Mammoth head coach Bob Hamley commented. “They made some adjustments, their defense is good and Bold settled down a bit. We got to be better through that mid section for sure.”
Much like last season, Colorado seemed to appear flat and off queue coming out of the locker room. The Rush capped off a six goal run with three more in the third quarter before John Grant Jr. broke the scoring drought for the home team, netting the first goal for Colorado in over 20 minutes of game time. The Mammoth pulled within one goal late in the fourth, but a pair of critical mistakes resulted in two quick Rush scores to silence the rallying home crowd.
“It’s frustrating, we were all ready to go tonight, and nerves got the best of us there in the second quarter on that run,” said Mammoth forward Adam Jones. “That seems to be something that we got to work on."
Curtis Knight (3g, 3a), Cory Conway (2g, 3a) and Greer (3g, 2a) led the charge for Edmonton, while Jones (4g, 2a) and Grant (3g, 1a) highlighted the Colorado offense.
“Sometimes you have more chances than other games, it seemed like tonight they were going in…I’m glad I was able to contribute and hope to continue that,” Knight said.
Aaron Bold saved 30 of 40 in net for Edmonton in the win. On the opposite end Tye Belanger posted 15 saves on 26 shots before being relieved by rookie Dillon Ward late in the third quarter. Ward, the third overall selection in this year’s Entry Draft, made 10 saves on 12 shots faced in relief for Belanger.
“I’m disappointed, we had a good training camp and thought they were ready,” Hamley added. “I thought we made some real bad mental mistakes. When the lights are turned on you got to be better, and it’s really disappointing. We’ll have to regroup and figure it out.”
Knight was named the game's first star and Jones the second star while Bold earned third star honors.
Edmonton will have a one-week rest before hosting Colorado in their second of four regular season matchups this season on January 11. The Mammoth meanwhile will regroup before playing host to the Vancouver Stealth on January 4.