The Colorado Mammoth secured its second victory of the 2019-20 season by posting a 13-11 win over the Georgia Swarm Dec. 28 at Infinite Energy Arena. Jacob Ruest scored 5 goals among seven points while Dillon Ward stopped 36-of-47 shots as the Mammoth improved to 2-1 on the season.
“Any time you win two road games in a row, it’s a big thing — but to do it against these two teams in Calgary and Georgia, where we historically haven’t had great results, we’re happy to have earned these two,” Mammoth Head Coach Pat Coyle shared in a postgame interview. “It’s a big confidence boost and a great way to start your season when you get wins against these recent league champions. We’re being tested by fire, and that makes us a stronger, better team.”
Facing a Swarm roster which featured some of the NLL’s best scorers and playmakers, the Mammoth were able to limit Georgia’s primary offensive threats (Lyle Thompson, Shayne Jackson and Randy Staats) to a combined four goals with Jackson leading the way for the Swarm with three goals and three assists as Staats posted six helpers.
Miles Thompson opened the contest’s scoring 23 seconds into the game by shooting a rocket past Mammoth goaltender Dillon Ward to take a 1-0 lead. Colorado had two goals waived off early in the first quarter for crease violations before Kyle Killen forced a turnover in the offensive zone and found Chris Wardle for a quick conversion past Georgia’s netminder Mike Poulin to tie the game at one.
Swarm forward Zed Williams started out his evening finishing a series of cross-crease passes with a quick strike past Ward’s right side to regain the lead for Georgia before Chris Wardle dove into the crease from the right side, faked left and came back to Poulin’s right side for his second goal of the night 26 seconds later to tie the game at 2-2.
Ryan Lee took a penalty with four minutes left in the first quarter to set up a Shayne Jackson extra-man tally which re-established Georgia’s lead on a delayed penalty. Outside a few costly penalties, the Mammoth efficiently limited Lyle Thompson, Randy Staats, and Shayne Jackson to a combined one goal in the first half.
Bryan Cole got Georgia off to a quick start in the second quarter as he carried from the right side toward the crease and converted five-hole to establish a 4-2 Swarm lead less than a minute into the second quarter. Colorado Mammoth fired back 30 seconds later when Jacob Ruest converted a laser over Poulin’s shoulder to make it a 4-3 game.
Ruest logged his 7th of the year with less than 10 seconds remaining on a second-quarter power-play opportunity to tie the game at 4-4. The forward was the beneficiary of a pass-heavy power-play sequence as the Mammoth worked the ball around the zone to secure spacing for Ruest, who netted the marker.
Swarm forward Zed Williams launched a quick shot from just inside restriction line and snuck one past Ward’s stick for his second goal of the night before Ryan Lee picked up his third score of the season with and tie the game at 5-5 going into halftime.
Tim Edwards was called for a penalty two minutes into the third to create a power-play opportunity for the Swarm as Miles Thompson logged a power play goal for Georgia. Bryan Cole came free off a screen and received a pass just outside the center of the crease before diving for a goal past Ward 22 seconds later.
Mammoth forward Ryan Lee answered with a full-extension dive goal after fielding a pass from rookie Will Malcom 30 seconds later as Lee converted his second of the night to make it 6-7.
Scoring the contest’s fourth goal in less than four minutes to open up the third quarter, Ruest received the ball at the top of key, rolled left past his defender and dove into the crease with a quick wrist shot which soared past Poulin’s stick to tie the game at seven.
Zed Williams completed his hat trick in the third quarter with a five-hole bounce shot past Ward to re-establish an 8-7 Swarm lead with seven minutes to go in the third quarter before Jackson picked up a loose ball and dove from behind the crease to sneak one past Dillon Ward and make it a 9-7 lead for Georgia.
Mammoth captain Dan Coates stepped up three minutes later with a breakaway goal at the 11:50 mark to bring it back to a one-goal game before Randy Staats sent a behind-the-back feed to Lyle Thompson who logged his lone goal of the night with two minutes to play in the third. Colorado intended on providing tough man-to-man coverage on Thompson and successfully kept him off the scoreboard until just before the fourth quarter.
Jacob Ruest received a pass from the right point and fired a quick strike past Poulin to make it a 10-9 game in favor of the Swarm before Mammoth forward Kyle Killen netted an equalizer, his third of the year and first of the night, past Poulin’s left shoulder to tie the game at 10-10 just a minute and a half into the fourth quarter.
In a flashback to last Saturday night’s overtime winner against Calgary, Jordan Gilles took the ball end-to-end in transition and logged a breakaway goal over Poulin’s left shoulder to establish Colorado’s first lead of the contest with just over 11 minutes left in the game.
Robert Hope was called for penalty and before Jackson netted Georgia’s last goal of the evening, the forward completed his hat trick by sending one past Ward’s five-hole to tie the game at 11. The Mammoth reclaimed the lead with a game-winning and contest-high fifth goal from Ruest three minutes later when the forward sent the ball to Ryan Lee before Lee sent it quickly back to Ruest with a behind-the-back dish which set up Ruest for his 10th goal of the season.
Jeff Wittig logged the final marker of the matchup off a pick-and-roll when the forward sent a laser past Poulin’s right shoulder to make the final 13-11 in favor of the Mammoth with just over five minutes remaining.
“We knew coming into the season that the beginning of our schedule would be tough,” Mammoth goaltender Dillon Ward said. “Coming out of this stretch with 2-1 record, including two road wins, is huge for us. We know how deadly Georgia’s offense can be and I think overall our team had a good outing tonight.”
Colorado provided a late offensive surge Saturday evening, outscoring Georgia 5-1 in the final quarter. After scoring just eight goals-per-contest through the team’s first two games, the Mammoth posted 13 goals against one of the league’s best defenses while holding one of the NLL’s hottest scoring offenses to 11 goals.
“We aren’t thinking about the opponent, we’re focusing on us. We’re a high-energy team, so we need to be moving and talking. Any team can beat any other team, on any given night – we know Vancouver is a very good team and being a division opponent, we have to show up against them and keep it rolling next week.”
Colorado will look to stay hot as the Mammoth return home to host its West Division rival Vancouver Warriors at Pepsi Center Jan. 4. Through three contests, forward Jacob Ruest leads the Mammoth in goals (10) and points (14) as forward Ryan Lee continues to pace Colorado players with 10 assists.
Tickets to Colorado’s Jan. 4 matchup against the Vancouver Warriors and all Mammoth home games can be purchased at AltitudeTickets.com. Mammoth road games can be streamed live via Bleacher Report Live.