An early deficit in the second game in two nights looked to be a sizeable obstacle for the Colorado Mammoth.
Turns out, it was merely a little pothole they could bounce right through.
The Mammoth (4-3) scored five unanswered goals in the second quarter and used that momentum to push them to a 12-6 win over the Saskatchewan Rush on Saturday night in Saskatoon. The win evened the season-series between the West Division rivals and also ended the Mammoth’s eight-game losing streak against the Rush (3-2) in regular-season action. The two teams will meet up again and settle the season-series on February 8th at SaskTel Centre.
The win, sparked by five goals from Chris Wardle, was especially gratifying for the Mammoth after they were beaten by Vancouver Warriors on Friday night. Embarrassed was a word used often by the Mammoth looking back on their performance only 24 hours earlier.
“We were really disappointed with our effort in that game and we knew we were going to have to grind one out here,” said Colorado goalie Dillon Ward.
“We started late (down by three) but we were able to grind it out.”
Ward did his part, registering 53 saves, few better than his pair during a Rush power play where there was still an outside shot of a comeback bid.
“It’s always close games against them, but we have a lot of confident in our offence and defence,” said Ward. “We got down early but stayed the course and stuck to the plan. But I think we surprised ourselves a bit. Our offence rebounded amazingly. To put 12 goals on that great defence, that’s a huge win on its own.”
Colorado fell behind 3-0 after giving up a pair of first-quarter power-play goals, but after closing the gap before the end of the first, the Mammoth rumbled their way into a huge momentum swing in the second quarter. Back-to-back goals from Eli McLaughlin were quickly followed by two straight goals from Chris Wardle, giving him a first-half hat trick. Joey Cupido, who doomed the Rush’s playoff hopes with the overtime winner in last year’s West Division Semifinal, upped the Mammoth lead with 41 seconds left in the opening half with a long-range shot that eluded Rush goalie Evan Kirk.
The Mammoth added two more in the third and then put the hammer down in the fourth beginning with Wardle’s fifth of the night with a sidearm rocket from outside. Ryan Lee made it 11-5 and McLaughlin rounded out the visitorss’ scoring with hat-trick tally. Lee (1 goal, 6 assists) and McLaughlin (3 goals, 4 assists) both finished the night with seven points.
Ryan Keenan scored the Rush’s opening goal just 35 seconds into the game. Jeff Shattler and Ben McIntosh both scored twice for the Rush with McIntosh’s second of the game, coming on a hot shot in the third quarter, counting as his 200th regular-season NLL marker. Mark Matthews had the Rush’s other goal.