Benesch sets career mark, Mammoth clinch playoff spot on Military Appreciation Night

Calgary Roughnecks vs. Colorado Mammoth at Pepsi Center, Saturday, March 10, 2018, in Denver. (Photo by Michael Martin for the Colorado Mammoth)

The Colorado Mammoth extended their winning streak to four games by defeating the Calgary Roughnecks 8-7, clinching a spot in the NLL playoffs in the process. Ryan Benesch added a goal and four assists, hitting a career mark of 900 points.

“I’d definitely put this game down as one of the biggest so far,” Benesch told Adam Levi of the NLL pregame. “We obviously want to win this one. If it comes down to the tie-breaker, we want to have that advantage.”

Advantage Mammoth, as they will represent one of the three teams that will play for the Champion’s Cup come May. The Mammoth will compete with Saskatchewan, who also have clinched a playoff spot for seeding. The NLL hosts a three-round playoff where the top seed in each division get a first-round bye, with the second and third seeds playing in a single elimination playoff. The winner of the first round moves on to play the top seed in another single elimination game, with the winner of that playing in the championship in a best-of three series.

In their playoff spot clinching win, the Mammoth hosted Military Appreciation Night at Pepsi Center, as the Mammoth honored several hometown heroes, while young recruits took the ‘Oath of Enlistment’ as they prepare to begin their military careers. Military members also participated in various on-field activities throughout the game.

Despite Calgary coming out and scoring first early, the Mammoth quickly turned the momentum in their favor, netting the next three goals and maintaining an aggressive offensive presence for much of the first quarter.

The Mammoth and Roughnecks traded goals through most of the game, keeping Colorado at a two-goal distance before Calgary caught fire late in the third quarter, putting in their sixth goal of the night and reducing the lead to one. The Roughnecks tied the game early in the fourth on an impressive one-handed behind-the-back goal by forward Curtis Dickson. But, defenseman Joey Cupido answered right away during the next series, scoring on a breakaway feed from goalie Dillon Ward that resulted as the game-winner, putting the Mammoth up 8-7 and for good.

Ward then put together an impressive set of saves to survive an offensive onslaught by the Roughnecks in the final minute of the period, who pulled their goalie in an attempt to tie the game, securing the win and the Mammoth’s playoff berth.

The Mammoth will travel to Vancouver for a two-week home-and-home set of games against the Stealth. The Stealth have only one win on the season so far.