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Rush Take Down Mammoth In Low-Scoring Battle

As expected, it was a gritty defensive battle Saturday night between the Colorado Mammoth and Saskatchewan Rush in Denver. With a chance to clinch an NLL Playoff spot, the Mammoth tried to make a late surge and overtake the visitors, but to no avail. The home side would lose 9-7 and surrender the season-series to their West Division foes.

The chess match between the minds of Mammoth head coach Pat Coyle and Rush head coach Derek Keenan was on full display all night long and it was wonderful to watch. It was equally enjoyable to sit back and see the performances of both goaltenders, the Mammoth’s Dillon Ward and the Rush’s Adam Shute, who were arguably the best players for their respective teams.

Shute has been thrust into the starting role in net over the last few weeks while Evan Kirk remains sidelined by an injury and he has improved each time he’s stepped on the floor. Tonight he had the best game of his brief three-year career by making 25 saves and only allowed a personal-best of seven scores.

Ward was much busier on the night. He stopped 46-55 Rush shots in the loss to secure his fifth match with 40 or more saves this season and his highest save total in a match since his career-best 57-save night back in January against the Toronto Rock.

Dillon Ward did more than just make saves in the contest, though. In the third quarter, Ward assisted rookie Julian Garritano on his first NLL goal. It was Ward’s 50th career assist and his eighth in 2019.

While the entire Mammoth offence struggled to get in a groove all night, one of the players presumably who was the most frustrated on the evening was Joey Cupido. The transition player had two breakaway opportunities to score but was denied by Shute who stood tall, spread his arms and stopped Cupido on both occasions.

Over on the visitor’s side, the Saskatchewan Rush were on milestone watch coming into tonight’s game and they got what they were hoping for. Jeff Shattler was one point shy of 800 for his career and he tallied it only eight minutes into the game when he scored the first goal of the night.

It was also a special night for Rush defenceman Scott Campbell who was acquired by the team in mid-March. It was his third game with his new club and he managed to score a goal for his fourth of the season and the 51st of his 15-year career.

Once again, Mark Matthews was a thorn in the Mammoth’s side as he scored twice and assisted on two other goals. In their first encounter of the season, Matthews also scored twice and had a hat trick of assists in the first meeting. Robert Church and Ryan Keenan also had a pair of goals while Shattler and Ben McIntosh had a pair of assists each.

Even though the Mammoth will be in the playoffs this May, this weekend hurt their chances to move to a higher seed. The Calgary Roughnecks won their game this weekend putting the Mammoth a game and a half behind them in the West Division standings with three games left on their schedule. The Mammoth do hold the tiebreak against the Roughnecks, though, if the two teams finish the season with the same record.

The Mammoth will have their next chance to move up the standings in six days time back in the Pepsi Center when they face the Rochester Knighthawks. That game on April 12th will be on B/R Live at 9:00 pm EST.