The Colorado Mammoth returned to Pepsi Center for the fan-favorite “Blackout Night,” defeating the Vancouver Stealth, 14-13, on a clutch last-minute goal by forward Jeremy Noble.
The victory comes on the heels of a hard loss to the Saskatchewan Rush 13 days earlier that cost the Mammoth both their undefeated record and the Western Division lead. But during Colorado’s bye week, the Rush managed to drop a game against the Buffalo Bandits, opening the door for the Mammoth to gain ground in the race.
The Mammoth — dressed in all-black uniforms — took advantage of the opportunity, as team-leading scorers Ryan Benesch, Eli McLaughlin and Jeremy Noble combined for nine goals, while Noble and Jacob Ruest each had five assists, remaining tied for the team lead.
Before the game, assistant coach Chris Gill preached having more “quality shots” after only scoring 12 times on 76 shots against the Saskatchewan Rush. The Mammoth have also been able to maintain a monstrous 71-shot-per-game average to start their season, but the team has yet to score over 15 goals this season.
“There is a big difference between just getting shots on net and getting quality shots on net,” Gill said. “We feel the more quality shots or scoring chances we get, the better opportunity we have to score goals and win games.”
The Mammoth started the game with great ball movement, opening opportunities for Tim Edwards and Benesch to open up a 2-1 lead after the first period. Benesch added another early in the second period, opening up a two-goal lead against a Stealth team that was missing it’s leading scorer, Logan Schuss.
Without their main scorer, the Stealth needed someone to step up and respond, and that’s exactly what their veteran Corey Small was able to do. Small netted the next two goals, allowing the Stealth to tie it up, and from that point forward, Vancouver was able to apply some tough offensive pressure against Mammoth goaltender Dillon Ward, scoring their next four goals on five shots, putting the Stealth up by two goals to end the half.
The Stealth added one more before the Mammoth came roaring back, scoring three goals in a minute and a half to tie the game, but the Stealth kept up offensive pressure, retaking a 10-8 lead. The Mammoth continued pressing for a tie, causing some chippy play between the two clubs that led to six penalties in a 2:30 span. Through it, though, Colorado was able to take their first lead since early in the second period, pulling ahead 11-10 after another three-goal burst.
But, the Stealth fought back, taking a 13-12 advantage with just 2:30 left to play before Noble took control, netting two straight goals in under a minute, including the game-winner with just 31 seconds left to play. Edwards’ face-off win ensured the Mammoth maintained possession until the clock ran out, securing the victory.
The Mammoth stay at home for another contest with the Saskatchewan Rush, where they will look to once again play for the Western Division lead. The team will also celebrate “Singles Appreciation Night,” where fans are encouraged to escape Valentine’s Day and, instead, enjoy a night with their friends and the Mammoth.
- Jacob Ruest had five assists, putting his total for the season at 20, a career high.
- Jeremy Noble and Ruest are still tied for the team lead with 20 assists.
- Ryan Benesch’s four goals keeps him the team’s leading scorer with 15.
- Joey Cupido is now 5 points away from 100 career points.