The Colorado Mammoth (3-5) outlasted the Minnesota Swarm (1-4) in a 14-12 home win Saturday night in front of a crowd of 15,127 at Pepsi Center.
Casey Powell led all runners in the game with nine points (3+6) in his return to the Mammoth roster. All three goals came in the first half, and were all game-tying scores for the home team to help set up a second half stand.
“The energy in the building is what brought me back and the guys on the team,” Powell commented. “It’s good to be back. I took care of some of my life priorities and hope to make a run here with the Mammoth.”
Mammoth head coach Bob Hamley was just as pleased in the 2010 MVP’s return.
“I’m going to find the fountain of youth he has, because I wouldn’t mind getting it,” he joked. “He didn’t go through training camp…he comes out and does what he does. Just a testament to what he is, he’s a hall of famer, he’s Casey Powell.”
John Grant Jr. trailed just behind with eight points (3+5). Adam Jones, the NLL points leader coming into Week 7, recorded four points (2+2) before leaving the game with an injury.
The Swarm broke out to an early 2-0 lead, but the Mammoth would battle back in the first quarter to tie it 4-4. The teams went back-and-forth on the scoreboard throughout the second frame, with Colorado tying the score three separate times; the final one coming from Powell with less than a second to go in the half to make it 8-8.
Tied 10-10 in the fourth, the teams swapped goals before Grant secured an insurance goal at 2:18 to put the Mammoth up for good. In total, the score in Saturday night’s game was tied eight separate times before the final horn sounded in Pepsi Center.
Riding a two game winning streak, Hamley was exuberant in his team’s crunch-time effort, and giving props to the Swarm for being equally competitive until the very end.
“We got some timely goals in the fourth quarter when the game was pretty even,” he said. “The defense held the fort; Dillon Ward and the defense at times struggled a little bit, but they stayed with it and stayed with it. Got to give Minnesota credit, their offense was very good tonight I thought.”
Hamley went on to praise the Mammoth squad, making it clear it was their devotion that has made those among the league turn their heads at the team many had given up on at this part of the season.
“I’m happy for those guys,” chime Hamley. “Two weeks ago, everybody had us written off. Credit to that dressing room, not the coaches, it was the players. They had resolve last week in Calgary without Casey Powell or without Drew Westervelt, and they had resolve…I’m happy for my guys, happy for them.”
Callum Crawford highlighted the Swarm offense in a seven-point (4+3) performance. Logan Schuss had five points (2+3), while Andrew Suitor and Jordan MacIntosh tallied four points (2+2) each.
Overall, Swarm head coach Joe Sullivan admitted there was no lack of effort from his young squad, but doesn’t show if they cannot get a sought after ‘W’.
“We worked a [heck] of a lot more than we have all season, but still when you come up short, it’s not a good feeling,” Sullivan said. “But I’ll tack that one up to a lack of maturity at this point in the season.”
Colorado outshot Minnesota 51-45, the first time they have done so against an opponent since their season opener.
It appeared from time to time to be a goalie duel between Dillon Ward and Zach Higgins. Ward, who started and completed his second game of his rookie season, finished the night with 34 saves. Higgins recorded 38 saves, and received all positives from Sullivan in his first career start in net.
“He did great, phenomenal, couldn’t have been happier about his turnout actually.”
Three Stars of the Game as selected by the media:
1) Casey Powell
2) John Grant Jr
3) Callum Crawford
Colorado will travel to Vancouver next weekend to face the Stealth, while Minnesota hosts the Calgary Roughnecks.