DENVER – The Colorado Mammoth dropped a 12-8 decision to the San Diego Seals Saturday night inside the LOUD HOUSE during the organization’s Military Appreciation Night.
While the team didn’t exit its fifth matchup of the season with its desired result, the team honored several retired and active duty service men and women throughout the night.
Winning the first possession of the night and instantly converting, Austin Staats stepped around his defender and sent a quick reaching bid at Mammoth goaltender Dillon Ward, beating the netminder 23 seconds into the contest to take an early lead.
Picking up his second of the night, Staats launched a long-range laser this time, just 34 seconds later, making it 2-0.
A natural hat trick in the making, Staats notched his third in a row courtesy of some top ched. Finding some twine over Ward’s left shoulder, the away team found itself up 3-0 midway through the opening quarter as the Mammoth came out slow.
Getting his show started, the Magic Man Connor Robinson accepted the rock at midfloor before streaking his way all the way across the crease, only to beat Seals’ netminder Chris Origlieri with a diving effort to bring the good guys back within two.
Appearing in his first game of the season for San Diego, forward Mac O’Keefe took advantage of some space, eventually stepping into a fierce overhand shot, which bounced and managed its way past Ward’s stick, now 4-1 with less than five remaining in the first quarter.
Not to much surprise, things got scrappy quick between the rivalrous squads. Starting a bit of a scrum, Wes Berg made some heavy contact with Ward behind the net, which veteran defenseman Paul Dawson certainly didn’t appreciate. Berg didn’t want to drop them, instead pulling Dawson to the ground as an exit.
Wasting little time once the opening 15 came to an end, San Diego forward Kyle Jackson got on the board just 27 seconds into quarter two. Seeing Dane Dobbie convert less than a minute later, the Seals had a 6-1 lead.
Three minutes later, drawing his defender to the net while nearly attracting another, Mammoth forward Zed Williams used a series of hesitation fakes before ultimately launching a nasty shot on net to earn his first of the night.
Eleven seconds later, defenseman Danny Logan finished a transition opportunity after the faceoff to reinstate his team’s five-goal lead.
Finishing an epic backdoor quick stick on the power play, Eli McLaughlin captured a high-flying dish, controlled it and instantly brought it back down to earth. The ball just happened to be in the back of the net, as the LOUD HOUSE roared in approval.
Spreading the love around while building momentum as a unit, Connor Kelly went high side over a Tyson Gibson screen, loaded up a fireball and nearly tore a hole in the net with a spicy conversion, his ninth of the year.
Netting his second of the night, O’Keefe got one back for the yellow and purple team, granting them another four-goal lead with less than five minutes to play in the first half.
With the remainder of the opening 30 scoreless, San Diego took an 8-4 lead into the break.
Despite coming into the second half down a man, as captain Robert Hope was called for a slashing penalty at the conclusion of the first half, McLaughlin recorded his 10th of the season and second on the night en route to becoming the first scorer this season to hit double digits.
It also marked the 236th goal of his career, moving him ahead of John Grant Jr. for the most goals scored in franchise history.
Answering back two minutes later with his first of the night, San Diego forward Wes Berg resumed his squad’s four-goal lead with a shot from the outside.
Curtis Dickson rolled high on a pick and sent a side-armed shot past Ward to extend said lead to five, tying the Seals’ highest of the night.
Firing a stepdown shot in transition, Tre Leclaire got in on the run, now three in a row for the Seals as they held an 11-5 advantage halfway through the third.
Able to bait his defender inside while receiving a pass, Mammoth forward Chris Wardle put his man into a bit of spin cycle before pealing crease side and beating Origlieri on the far side to bring Colorado back within five 56 seconds later.
With that goal coming at the 7:27 mark of the third, the next goal wasn’t scored for nearly 15 minutes, as McLaughlin completed his hat trick during his record-breaking evening. Making it three in a row for the burgundy boys, Robinson notched a second of his own with three minutes to play.
Burying a cross-floor, empty net goal with just over 30 seconds remaining, the Seals finalized a 12-8 final inside Ball Arena Saturday night.
Eli McLaughlin paced Mammoth scorers with six points (3g, 3a), while Connor Robinson (2g, 3a), Zed Williams (1g, 2a), Connor Kelly (1g, 2a) and Chris Wardle highlighted scoring efforts for Colorado.
For San Diego, Wes Berg’s seven-point night (1g, 6a) served as the Seals’ top effort, with Austin Staats (3g, 2a), Curtis Dickson (1g, 3a) and Kyle Jackson doing the heavy lifting for the purple and yellow contingent. Mac O’Keefe added two goals (2g, 0a).
The Mammoth will be back inside Ball Arena next weekend for a showdown with the Calgary Roughnecks as the team celebrates MIX 100 Night at the LOUD HOUSE! Limited tickets for next Saturday, Jan. 20’s matchup remain available, so be sure to lock yours in and get ready to TUSK UP!