Dillon Ward, Mammoth bounce back following bye to clinch playoff spot

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Coming into Saturday night’s game, the Colorado Mammoth had been away from the game of lacrosse for two weeks. In that time, the team was able to rest their bodies, get back to full strength and focus on the remainder of their regular season.

“It gives guys a weekend where they’re at home. You don’t have to get on a plane, you don’t have to worry about lacrosse for a weekend,” said head coach Pat Coyle about their bye week. “It came at a good time in the season, right near the end of the season, heading into the playoff run.”

Coyle was right about timing, the Mammoth handled their business against the Rochester Knighthawks, peppering their net minders Matt Vinc and Angus Goodleaf with 52 shots, while netting 13 goals.

On the other end of the field resided a story of redemption, where goaltender Dillon Ward took the field since his last performace against the Georgia storm, in which he was pulled after 34 minutes of play.

The contest against the Peach State proved to be a difficult outing for the Canadian netminder, in which he faced 31 shots, and giving up 15 goals.

“I had a pretty ugly game,” said goal tender Dillon Ward. “[With] that by-weekend, we had a lot of time to let that marinate.”

Ugly game or not, Ward bounced back in fashion, making 45 saves and pushing his team over the hill into the 2017 NLL playoffs.

“Lacrosse is a high-scoring sport, I know I’m never going to get a shut out and if I do I’ll probably retire on the spot,” said Ward. “It’s mainly the ‘what’s next mentality’. Pick up the ball, give it back to the ref and focus on what I have to do next.”

Although Ward was brilliant between the pipes, he found another way to impact the game, providing outlet passes to fellow Mammoths running up the field to fuel the transition game.

“Dillon Ward was on the back end, and he gave us some opportunities to push it,” said forward Jeremy Noble.

“That was part of our game plan,” said Ward. “We wanted to push the ball as much as we could, but we wanted to be smart about it.”

The playoff bound Colorado Mammoth are set to face off against Western Division rival Vancouver Stealth on Saturday, April 22 as Ward and the rest of his team look to continue their elite play, and make a late push for the number one seed in the West.

Feature Image: Colorado Mammoth

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