Saturday, the Colorado Mammoth (10-6) surrendered in Saskatchewan, falling 11-8 in their final Rush (12-3) decision of the regular season.
The result of the Mammoth and Rush matchup Saturday night cemented the playoff seeding in the West Division of the NLL. The Rush clinched the West Division title and the top overall seed in the NLL. The Mammoth secured the second seed in the West Division, meaning it will host the third seed, Calgary, at Pepsi Center for the single-elimination Division Semifinal game in the first round, which falls the week of April 30.
Despite the Mammoth’s narrow loss to the Rush, defenseman Brad Self said, “I thought we played pretty well defensively tonight and, as usual, Dillon bailed us out when we made mistakes.”
Saving 35 out of 45 shots on goal, Dillon Ward did give the Mammoth a chance to win in the SaskTel Centre.
So did Self. The NLL veteran scored two points Saturday night (1G, 1A), extending his points streak to six games. He said post-game that he feels fortunate to have gotten opportunities to score on transition and feels that the push on transition has been a team effort.
Another notable scorer Saturday night was Ryan Benesch who came away with four points (3G, 1A).
“I thought we needed to do a better job of being physical and moving our feet on the offense. We got good looks but need to capitalize on them,” said Benesch. “My mindset when playing Saskatchewan is to try and eliminate mental mistakes and stay out of the box because they have the best power play in the league and more often than not will take advantage of that.”
As Benesch predicted, Saskatchewan did take advantage of their power play prowess while playing Colorado, scoring on three out of four power plays while the Mammoth scored on only one of three power plays.
The Mammoth did open in Saskatchewan by capitalizing on their shorthanded scoring skills, though.
Saturday night, the Mammoth got on the board at 6:58 with a shorthanded goal by Ryan Benesch. Within a minute, Ben McIntosh answered back with the Rush’s opening goal; the first in a three-goal streak. The Mammoth ended the quarter down 3-1.
Less than one minute into the second quarter, Jeremy Noble marked a Mammoth goal. But, 30 seconds later, Robert Church scored his first of two consecutive goals, extending the Rush’s lead to 5-2. The score stuck until halftime.
The third quarter saw two quick tallies within two minutes by the Mammoth, slashing Saskatchewan’s lead to 5-4, before the Rush launched their second three-goal campaign of the game, pulling away with an 8-4 lead.
The Mammoth outscored the Rush four goals to three in the fourth quarter but, unfortunately, the Mammoth’s momentum came too late.
Saskatchewan began the fourth quarter with two quick tallies, bringing the score to 10-4 Rush. Answering back at 8:00, Greer rifled a ball into Saskatchewan’s from the restraining line. Then, at 8:54, Brad Self used a head-fake in transition to bounce another ball by Kirk, cutting the Rush’s advantage to 10-6.
Four minutes later, forward Ryan Benesch and defenseman Bryce Sweeting racked up two more Mammoth goals, bringing the Mammoth within two points of the Rush. Benesch’s goal completed his hat trick; the first hat trick he has had since playing Saskatchewan on February 2. Sweeting’s goal was his second of the season; his first since playing the Vancouver Stealth in the Mammoth’s season opener.
At 1:23, the Mammoth had tightened the score to 10-8 Rush. The Mammoth won their last faceoff at 1:23 but the offense was unable to score. With 0:30 seconds left in the game, it was Chris Corbeil who scored the conclusive, empty net goal for the Rush.
Saskatchewan settled the game with an 11-8 win over Colorado.
The Mammoth returns to Pepsi Center next Saturday, April 14, for its ninth Lacrosse Out Cancer night presented by Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children. A portion of the proceeds for each Lacrosse Out Cancer game ticket will go toward local cancer-related charities. Also, during the game, fans can join the Mammoth in the fight to cross out cancer with a silent auction featuring game-worn, Lacrosse Out Cancer gear from the players. All proceeds from the auction will go to local non-profits that fight cancer daily.
Featured Image Credit: Colorado Mammoth