Mammoth fans in attendance had The Loud House rocking Saturday night with an unmatchable energy as Colorado secured an 11-10 victory over the Philadelphia Wings at Pepsi Center Feb. 29.
“The mindset heading into tonight’s game is that this is a playoff game and I’m glad our guys stepped up,” Mammoth captain Dan Coates shared in a postgame interview. “We didn’t make it easy on ourselves at the end, but we’ll be able to take some things away from tonight and most importantly secured the win.”
Following an opening faceoff win from Wings defenseman Trevor Baptiste, Philadelphia forward Matt Rambo came off a screen at the top of the key and converted on a quick shot to give the Wings an early 1-0 lead 27 seconds into the contest. Another Baptiste faceoff win on the ensuing draw led to a Kevin Crowley tally when the forward connected on a bounce shot that found its way past Mammoth goaltender Dillon Ward’s left side to make it a 2-0 game.
Ryan Lee got the Mammoth on the board during Colorado’s first offensive possession with a slick side-arm shot from the right side that found its way past Wings’ goaltender Zach Higgins two minutes into the opening period.
Logging a goal in his second-consecutive game, defenseman Tim Edwards finished off a breakaway by converting a precise strike past Higgins to tie the game at two at the 7:33 mark.
Philadelphia Forward Brett Hickey fielded a pass coming off an identical screen as the one Rambo used to get free during the game’s opening goal and buried a shot past Ward to give the Wings a 3-2 lead four minutes later.
Despite outshooting the Mammoth 16-5 and securing 5-of-6 faceoffs in the first quarter, Philadelphia took a mere one-goal lead into the second quarter thanks to Colorado’s sound defensive performance to open the game.
With seven seconds remaining on a Mammoth power-play opportunity, Lee logged his second marker of the evening as the result of an Alex Pace holding penalty called at the three-minute mark of the second period. Colorado forward Tyler Digby assisted on the play, marking his first point as a member of the Mammoth since being acquired from the New York Riptide last week during Colorado’s bye week.
Kevin Buchanan re-established the lead for the Wings two minutes later after finding space and sinking one past Ward’s short side to give Philadelphia a 4-3 lead.
Rookie forward Dylan Kinnear went to work during an isolation post on the right side before cutting back inside and sending a quick strike past Higgins to knot the game at four heading into halftime.
After trailing by 11 shots on goal in the first period, Colorado closed the gap and recorded 13 in the second session, while limiting the Wings to 7 for a 23-18 total at the midway mark.
Rambo logged his second of the night from the top of the key 27 seconds into the third quarter after the Wings collected an offensive rebound.
Digby recorded his first goal as a member of the Mammoth by converting a direct shot outside the center of the crease 75 seconds into the third before Jacob Ruest established Colorado’s first lead of the evening with a diving goal from Higgins’ left side less than a minute later.
“That first goal is a shot I don’t necessarily take all of the time, but the opportunity presented itself and I was happy to see it find the back of the net,” Mammoth forward Tyler Digby said. “It helped me jump start my game tonight and the team did a nice job of producing, so it was nice to be able to contribute.”
Kinnear went back to work with an isolation post move on the left side before diving crease-side and logging his second of the contest with just under six minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Following a holding the stick penalty on Baptiste, Chris Wardle recorded his 16th tally of the season and third power-play marker of the campaign with a relentless rip from the left side.
Colorado logged its fifth-consecutive goal courtesy of a Digby power-play marker with two minutes left in the third as the result of an Anthony Joaquim holding the stick penalty.
“We did a good job of moving ourselves and moving the ball – using both corners and really making the defense work,” Digby said. “Sticking to that grind-it-out mentality during the third helped fuel us for the fourth and we were able to pick up a key win.”
The Mammoth were able to capitalize on several Wings’ penalties and a handful of offensive rebounds in the third to give Colorado a 9-5 lead heading into the final quarter.
Lee completed his third hat trick of the campaign after creating space from his defender on the right side and converting a diving marker to give the Mammoth a five-goal lead with 14 minutes remaining in the contest.
Crowley broke Philadelphia’s 17-minute scoring drought two minutes later to bring the Wings back within four before Lee answered with his fourth of the night with seven minutes left in the game.
Buchanan brought the Wings back within four by sending a shot past Ward’s right side 90 seconds later to make it an 11-7 game with five minutes to play.
Kiel Matisz, the league’s leading transition scorer, logged a late goal for the Wings before Josh Currier followed up the score with a goal of his own less than a minute later by diving from behind Ward’s crease and slamming one home with less than two minutes to play.
Hickey logged another goal for the Wings with 30 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter to bring Philadelphia back within a goal to solidify an 11-10 final score in favor of the Mammoth.
“I’m proud of the way we battled and competed for 60 minutes and we have to continue to grow as a team,” Coates said. “The Loud House was one of the most impressive crowds I’ve witnessed in my career – It was a packed house tonight and we’re glad to have secured the win for the best fans in the league.”
Ryan Lee led Mammoth scorers with seven points (4g, 3a) while Tyler Digby posted six (2g, 4a) in the forward’s debut with Colorado. Dylan Kinnear logged four points (2g, 2a) to earn his fourth two-goal game in the rookie’s last five contests while Chris Wardle collected five points (1g, 4a) in the victory. Dillon Ward stopped 35-of-45 to earn his sixth win of the season upon recording his 4,000th career save early in the contest.
Matt Rambo (2g, 4a), Brett Hickey (2g, 3a) and Kevin Buchanan (2g, 1a) each netted two goals for the Wings while captain Kiel Matisz was limited to three points (1g, 2a) on the evening. Philadelphia goaltender Zach Higgins stopped 35-of-46 in the netminder’s fourth loss of the campaign.
Robert Hope recorded six loose balls to improve upon his team-high 107 for the season.
“We want to play physical, on both side of the ball, and that’s a message from our coaches,” Coates said. “Having some bigger bodies on both sides with Digby and then Brett Craig and Warren Jeffrey back there with us – It’s becoming a huge part of our defense and we need to continue to play big and with a purpose.”
Through 12 games, forward Ryan Lee leads the Mammoth in goals (22), points (56) and assists (34) after recording seven points (4g, 3a) Feb. 29 against the Philadelphia Wings.
Lee’s seven-point outing represents his fifth five-plus point game of the season and the forward’s sixth-consecutive three-plus point performance.
“We were able to get top side and the picks were working well – Having a guy like Digby around to help set picks and be physical inside is huge for us,” Ryan Lee said. “They came out hot right away, but we were able to gather ourselves and turn it around for a huge win.”
Tickets to Colorado’s March. 8 Sunday Funday matchup against the Rochester Knighthawks, and all Mammoth home games, can be purchased at AltitudeTickets.com. Mammoth road games can be streamed live via Bleacher Report Live.