Colorado Mammoth players had a bitter taste in their mouths from a visit to the Peach State two weeks ago. Following a bye, the team found its stride and clinched a playoff berth with a resounding 13-7 win over the Rochester Knighthawks at Pepsi Center on Saturday.
“We needed to come out here and play hard and get back on track,” said Mammoth goaltender Dillon Ward. “From top to bottom, it was a great game. It really showed the character in this room.”
Ward made 45 saves, including 20 in the fourth quarter. He and the defense limited the Knighthawks to just one goal in the first half, and held them scoreless for a stretch of nearly 33 minutes.
After the teams traded goals in the first 90 seconds of action, Colorado scored the next nine to put the game out of reach. Stephen Keogh, who was traded from Rochester in February, scored two of the nine. Callum Crawford had two goals during the run as well.
Brad Self, who was acquired in late-March, made his Mammoth return to Pepsi Center after last calling The Loud House his home twelve years ago. His goal late in the first quarter started the scoring streak.
“It was awesome – this crowd’s unbelievable,” said the veteran. “It was certainly nice to get a win. The crowd’s that much louder when we’re winning.”
Colorado has now won four of its last five at home, and enjoyed its second-largest margin of victory in a game this season. The Mammoth offense is starting to click at the right time, averaging 13.5 goals per contest in the last month. Only one team (Georgia) has a better scoring average in 2017.
Crawford and teammate Jeremy Noble tied for a game-high five points. Keogh and Eli McLaughlin (2g, 2a) each had four points.
The Mammoth chased five-time NLL Goaltender of the Year Matt Vinc from the net five minutes into the second quarter. Vinc allowed seven goals and registered 13 saves.
Colorado can clinch no worse than the number-two seed in the West Division, and a home playoff game, with a win next Saturday at Vancouver.