The Colorado Mammoth dropped a 7-5 decision in Vancouver as the Warriors limited Colorado to five goals at Rogers Arena Jan. 17.
“That’s a tough loss for us — We knew how big the matchup was going up against a divisional opponent tonight and we need to learn as a team and make adjustments moving forward,” Mammoth captain Dan Coates said. “We knew Vancouver was going to come in desperate and it was a physical game. It felt like a playoff game, and those are the fun ones to play, but we didn’t get the result we wanted.”
Jeff Wittig opened the contest’s scoring by spinning around his defender and sending a fierce shot over Vancouver goaltender Eric Penney’s right shoulder just under four minutes into the first quarter.
Following a Brett Craig holding penalty, Jordan McBride converted a power-play marker from the right side that braised Mammoth goaltender Dillon Ward’s shoulder but trickled in to tie the game at 1-1.
Undrafted rookie Sam Clare established Vancouver’s first lead of the night by netting a transition goal during a two-on-one breakaway a minute later.
With three minutes left in the opening frame, Ward threw a high lob pass to a streaking Jordan Gilles, who floated one past Penney on a breakaway transition goal.
A few possessions later, Mitch Jones received the ball entering the offensive zone, took a step inside and fired a quick shot to give the Warriors a 3-2 lead with a minute to play in the first. The league’s leading scorer later added a short-handed tally four and a half minutes into the second quarter on a quick transition goal.
Mammoth forward Jacob Ruest navigated through three defenders and logged his twelfth of the year with less than three minutes to play in the second as Vancouver took a 4-3 lead into the half.
The Warriors logged the first goal of the third period as Riley Loewen converted a quick strike to give Vancouver a 5-3 lead.
Colorado brought it back to a one-goal game as Ryan Lee connected with Eli McLaughlin, who dove across the crease and buried one past Penney with a power-play goal to make it 5-4.
Keegan Ball restored Vancouver’s two-goal lead with an outside snipe shot past Ward on a delayed penalty opportunity in the final thirty seconds of the third quarter. McBride logged his second of the evening from the front of the crease as he received a flip pass from Bal to make it 7-4
Ryan Lee and Eli McLaughlin passed the ball back and forth at the top of the zone before Lee picked up his first of the night on the power play with just under six minutes to play for a final score of 7-5.
“We need to show up tomorrow and be ready to work. If we’re not ready to outwork a team at both ends of the floor, then it doesn’t matter what adjustments we make,” Mammoth Head Coach Pat Coyle said. “Teams are going to make it hard on us and we have to be able to push back offensively. They had some big, athletic guys on defense and they kept us to the outside for the most part.”
The Low-scoring, defensive affair featured a pair of impressive goaltender performances. Dillon Ward stopped 31-of-38 and added an assist on a first-quarter lob pass to Jordan Gilles. Eric Penney made 48 saves on 53 shots for his first victory of the campaign.
The Mammoth defense limited Vancouver to 38 shots on goal, a season-low total for an opponent through six contests. Colorado’s power-play continued to find success, converting on two-of-four opportunities on the evening.
Eli McLaughlin’s three points (1g, 2a) led the Mammoth in scoring Friday, as Jeff Witting, Jacob Ruest and Jordan Gilles each added a tally while Ryan Lee logged two points (1g, 1a).
Mitch Jones (2g, 2a) and Keegan Bal (1g, 3a) led the Warriors in scoring, as Jordan McBride added two goals and rookie Sam Clare netted a pair of points (1g, 1a). In two contests this season, the Mammoth have limited the league’s scoring leader, Mitch Jones, to a combined eight points (3g, 5a).
“The good thing about this double-header is that we get a chance to change what we did tonight and go out there tomorrow to prove we’re better than the effort we gave tonight,” Coyle said.
Through six games this season, forward Jacob Ruest leads the Mammoth in goals (12) while Ryan Lee continues to pace Colorado in points (25) and assists (15) after the forward logged a pair of points (1g, 1a) Friday against Vancouver.
Yeah, they’re (Saskatchewan) a great ball club — They have a high-powered offense and their defense is fine-tuned,” Coates said. “We’re going to have to outwork them, similar to how we beat them last year in the playoffs. It comes down to effort, so we simply have to outwork them tomorrow and we’re excited for the opportunity to right the ship.”
The Mammoth will get an opportunity to get back in the win column Saturday as they travel to Saskatchewan to complete the road double-header Jan. 18 at 6:30 p.m. MT.