The Colorado Mammoth outscored the Saskatchewan Rush 7-2 in the second half of their final regular-season game on Saturday night, but despite the Mammoth’s positive momentum in the latter half, the Rush won the game, 13-8, on their home turf.
The story of the night for the Mammoth was 27-year-old forward Jeremy Noble and his return to the goals column. After the Rush beat the Mammoth 11-1 in the first half, the Orangeville, Ontario native quarterbacked the Mammoth’s late resurgence, scoring two goals in the third quarter and one in the fourth to complete his first hat trick of the season.
The only Mammoth player to score in the first half of Saturday’s contest was Jacob Ruest, whose marker at 8:30 in the second quarter answered Saskatchewan’s eight-goal run. Ruest would later assist teammate Chris Wardle, tallying his 100th career assist.
Wardle (one goal, two assists) netted a quick goal 17 seconds into the third quarter, right off the first faceoff. The 26-year-old forward ended the regular season on a five-game scoring streak. Wardle posted 14 goals this season, besting his 2017-18 total by one goal.
Ryan Lee (two goals, one assist) shot back-to-back missiles past Rush goalie Evan Kirk in the fourth quarter, bringing his 2018-19 goal-count to 27. In his second career season, also his second season with the Mammoth, the 24-year-old tallied the third-most goals, the third-most assists (32) and the second-most points (59) for the team.
A well-placed snipe by Brad Self (one goal, two assists), sailing just over Kirk’s shoulder at 12:50 in the fourth quarter, was the last goal before the final buzzer. Self scored seven points (four goals, three assists) in six games this season, posting five of those points (three goals, two assists) in the last two weeks.
Notably, despite missing the last two games due to an upper body injury, Eli McLaughlin remained on top of the Mammoth’s goals (35), assists (41) and points columns (76) at the close of the regular season on Saturday night. It is the first time that the fifth-year Mammoth forward has headed into the postseason as his team’s leading scorer.
On to the NLL Playoffs, the fourth-seeded Mammoth will meet the division-leading Rush in the Western Division Semifinal game at 7:30 p.m. MT on Friday, May 3 at SaskTel Centre. Fans can live-stream the game on Bleacher Report Live and on Fanseat. NLL Playoffs Pre-Game LIVE will begin at 7:00 p.m. MT, and will be broadcast on Bleacher Report Live and on the NLL’s Facebook and Twitter (@NLL) pages.