The Colorado Mammoth’s three-game winning streak was halted Saturday evening at SaskTel Centre, as the Saskatchewan Rush captured a dramatic 9-8 victory to avoid being eliminated from postseason contention.
Ryan Lee paced Mammoth scorers with eight points (1g, 7a), while Eli McLaughlin (3g, 1a), Zed Williams (2g, 2a) and Connor Robinson highlighted offensive efforts for the club. In a game where goaltender Dillon Ward surpassed career and franchise-best save totals for a single season, the veteran stopped 41-of-50. Only registering 31 shots against on the evening, Adam Shute recorded the win for the Rush, as Eric Penney wasn’t available for Saskatchewan.
The Mammoth were first to the board Saturday night, as forward Eli McLaughlin received a nice dish from teammate Tyson Gibson before finding twine past Rush goaltender Adam Shute four minutes into the first quarter. Dylan Kinnear followed the conversion up 22 seconds later by beating his man and then beating Shute to give Colorado an early 2-0 lead.
Saskatchewan forward Marshall Powless was first to score for the Rush, as the forward was the recipient of some extra space on the right side and took advantage, bringing the Rush back within one at the 6:42 mark.
Zed Williams showcased his dedication to the gym 10 minutes into the first, after posting up his defender, the forward created space and eventually shed his corresponding defenseman, before tucking a far side bid past Shute to create a 3-1 game.
Dan Lintner managed to send one past Ward with just under two minutes remaining in the first to bring a 3-2 game into the second period. Recording his 600th career point with the marker, forward Robert Church tied the game at threes via the power-play three minutes into the second. Saskatchewan continued its goal streak as Mark Matthews was left alone on the left side following a rebound, who quickly send a low far-side slicer past Ward’s left side to give the Rush its first lead of the night.
On the team’s next possession, Colorado kept the ball moving while creating space for McLaughlin, who received a pass while just outside the crease and fired a quick strike past Shute to re-tie the game nearly halfway through the second. Working the two-man game less than two minutes later, Ryan Lee faked toward the crease while drawing a switch and send a beautiful behind-the-back pass to Williams, who faked Shute out twice and buried his second of the night.
Matthews logged his second of the night on the first possession of the second half to the game at 5-5, his second of the night. Lintner followed the effort up seven minutes later with his second of the night after Ward fell down in the crease and couldn’t re-establish position to give Saskatchewan a 6-5 lead at the 7:51 mark of the third.
Williams continued to display his talents early in the fourth, as the forward had a nice shot outside the crease but made the extra pass to a wide-open McLaughlin, who sent a fierce strike at the back door to beat Shute and knot the game at sixes.
Less than a minute later, Matthews sent a lob pass to Powless at the point, who quickly took a step-down shot and put one past Ward. After winning the ensuing faceoff, Saskatchewan pushed transition immediately and created a two-goal lead courtesy of a Mike Mallory strike at the 1:48 mark of the fourth.
Lee was able to finish a two-on-one opportunity with Jordan Gilles 33 seconds later, but again off the faceoff win, the Rush were able to convert a quick transition goal, this one scored by defenseman Holden Garlent, to create a 9-7 game with just over 13 minutes to play.
After nearly eight minutes of scoreless play, Connor Robinson scored another timely goal for the club, albeit his first of the night, after Lee was able to collect a rebound and quickly facilitate to his teammate, bringing Colorado back within one. Despite valiant last-minute efforts by the offense to force an overtime session, the Rush captured the 9-8 contest as SaskTel Centre Saturday.
Colorado will now rest during a bye week next week before heading north again to face the Calgary Roughnecks in a game that may have serious implications on seeding out west.
Through 17 contests, forward Ryan Lee continues to lead Colorado players with 113 points and 80 assists while teammate Connor Robinson paces the team with 41 goals.