The Colorado Mammoth dropped a 9-7 decision to the Saskatchewan Rush during a low-scoring affair which featured a pair of stellar goaltending performances at SaskTel Centre Feb. 8.
“We turned the ball over too often during our offensive possessions, and that lead to higher loose ball counts and more looks for them,” Pat Coyle shared in a postgame interview.
Jacob Ruest opened the contest’s scoring for the Mammoth after creating space and spinning off his defender and launching a quick strike past Saskatchewan goaltender as the shot-clock nearly expired during the opening possession of the game.
“I liked our compete level tonight on faceoffs and in general on the loose ball charge – We limited their second possession totals on offense and did a solid job in transition,” Coyle said.
Rush captain Chris Corbeil tied the game on a breakaway with a low stick-side shot that found its way past Mammoth goaltender Dillon Ward seven minutes into the game.
Chris Wardle rolled to his left toward the top of the key and fired a quick side-armed shot that trickled past Kirk to re-stablish the lead for Colorado.
Despite combining for 23 shots in the first quarter, the Mammoth, who registered 11 of the 23, took a 2-1 lead to close the low-scoring opening session.
Jeff Shattler continued the back-and-forth affair after receiving a lob pass from Ben McIntosh in front of the net and buried a quick shot past Ward to tie the game at two.
Jeff Cornwall collected a streaking loose ball just inside Colorado’s restraining line during a breakaway before taking a few strides and slamming a transition marker past Ward with six minutes left in the second quarter.
Eli McLaughlin answered back with a power-play tally less than a minute later as the result of a Jeremy Thompson holding penalty to notch the game’s third tie of the match at 3-3.
Rush forward Ryan Keenan converted another tie-breaking tally with 18 seconds remaining in the half to give Saskatchewan a 4-3 lead heading into halftime.
Ben McIntosh logged his first of the evening with an over-hand snipe that flashed past Ward’s shoulder three minutes into the second half.
Ryan Lee came free off a Ruest pick on the right side and sent one past Kirk’s short side to bring the Mammoth back within one.
Joey Cupido tied the game up at five after receiving a lob pass from defenseman Josh Sullivan while streaking downfield and after a series of dekes, planted his foot and netted the tying marker.
Saskatchewan defenseman Matt Hossack finished a two-on-one opportunity three minutes into the final quarter to give the Rush its third lead of the contest.
Will Malcom connected with a wide-open McLaughlin just outside the crease before the forward logged his twelfth of the year.
Keenan tallied his second of the evening as the beneficiary of a quick flip pass from Mark Matthews to give the Rush a 7-6 lead 15 seconds later. Shattler logged his second of the night at the 5:46 mark to give Saskatchewan a two-goal lead.
McLaughlin recorded his third hat trick of the year with a spectacular no-look, behind-the-back bounce shot that caught Kirk by surprise.
McIntosh restored Saskatchewan’s two-goal lead with five minutes remaining to solidify a 9-7 victory for the Rush.
“It was nice to see our offense, defense and goaltending collectively respond after last week’s effort,” Coyle said.
Despite limiting Matthews to two points in the contest (0g, 2a), Colorado dropped its fifth of its last sixth and will head back to Pepsi Center with a 4-6 record through Week 11.
“It’s hard to believe that we’re ten games into the season and we really haven’t played much at home – we’re looking forward to having a long stretch in our house and really establish our home field as a tough place to play and make it a tough trip for our last eight opponents.”
Ben McIntosh (2g, 2a) and Robert Church (0g, 4a) led the Rush in scoring, while Jeff Shattler and Ryan Keenan each netted two goals. Evan Kirk stopped 33-of-40 for his fourth win of the season.
Eli McLaughlin posted an identical five-point performance (3g, 2a) to his stat line from last weekend and led the Mammoth in scoring Saturday. Ryan Lee logged three points (1g, 2a) while Dillon Ward made 45 saves.
Through 10 games, forward Ryan Lee leads the Mammoth in goals (17) and points (43) while Eli McLaughlin continues to pace Colorado with 27 assists after logging five points (3g, 2a) against Saskatchewan Saturday.
Tickets to Colorado’s Feb. 15 matchup against the San Diego Seals, and all Mammoth home games, can be purchased at AltitudeTickets.com. Mammoth road games can be streamed live via Bleacher Report Live.