Following a pair of losses last weekend, the Colorado Mammoth (11-6) rebounded in Week 17 with a 10-5 win over the Toronto Rock (5-12) in front of 14,122 fans at Pepsi Center in Denver on Saturday night.
Tonight’s win ties a franchise record for home wins in a single season with seven. With a home playoff game secured however, tonight’s game was more about momentum than anything else as the regular season wraps up next week.
“We got to build momentum,” Mammoth coach Dan Stroup commented. “We can’t go into the playoffs losing any games. Dillon was awesome and the ‘D’ was great…overall it was a good team effort.”
“It’s our final stretch down into the playoffs,” Dillon Ward said. “We want to make sure we are all on the same track and build on our game and get stronger going into the playoffs.”
Ward picked up his sixth win between the pipes for the Mammoth this season, posting 49 saves in the process.
“Defense just played awesome,” Ward added. “We have a system in place, I think we’ve gotten in trouble when we’ve gotten away from it last weekend for sure the last couple games. We just wanted to bear down, get back to our game and just executed.”
Nick Rose played opposite of Ward, who registered 35 stops on 45 shots.
Callum Crawford (2+3) and John Grant, Jr. (2+3) highlighted the Mammoth offense. Grant’s two goals put him at 230 in a Mammoth uniform, tying a franchise record.
For the Rock, it was Rob Hellyer (1+3), with Turner Evans, Kasey Beirnes and Dan Lintner all contributing (1+0).
The Mammoth was without offensive star Adam Jones in the matchup. Toronto’s Josh Sanderson was also absent from the lineup.
Colorado claimed the opening goal just 34 seconds into the game, courtesy of Crawford, who added another later in the opening quarter. Toronto’s Turner Evans responded with a late quarter score to get on the board. Rob Hellyer tallied the lone goal in the second while the Rock defense kept the Mammoth offense off the board the remainder of the half, with the score 3-2 in favor of the home team.
The Mammoth offense was back on track coming out of the locker room, netting four to Toronto’s one, which came off a botched extra man attempt by Colorado in the final seconds of the quarter. Sandy Chapman picked off the ball on a pass attempt, and netted the easy empty net left by Colorado. Toronto would add two more in the fourth, but three by Colorado ultimately kept the possibility of a late Rock rally in check.
“We had a little fire in our belly,” Stroup said. “We played great up in Saskatchewan, here it wasn’t so good…tonight we hustled and we came out with a win.”
With momentum as important as it is for Colorado, that hustle will have to transfer in Week 18, when the Mammoth faceoff against Vancouver in a potential West Division Semifinal matchup. The two teams will play in Denver next Friday at 9:30 p.m. ET. The Rock meanwhile head to Calgary in their season finale next Saturday, with the game set for 9 p.m. ET.
Three Stars of the Game:
1) Dillon Ward
2) John Grant, Jr.
3) Callum Crawford
By Nick Salen for NLL.com. Photo by Jack Dempsey.