The Colorado Mammoth dropped an 11-10 overtime decision Saturday night to the San Diego Seals as Ball Arena hosted its first Mammoth postseason action since 2017. Colorado will now head back to Pechanga Arena next weekend to conclude its best-of-three series with its ultimate goal of reaching the NLL Finals for the first time since 2006, when the organization won its first title.
During an evening in which the veteran recorded a postseason sock trick, forward Eli McLaughlin highlighted scoring efforts for Colorado (6g, 1a) Saturday, while Tyson Gibson (1g, 2a), Dylan Kinnear (1g, 2a), Connor Robinson (0g, 3a) and rookie Brett McIntyre (1g, 1a) rounded out the stat sheet. Dillon Ward stopped 41-of-52 shots against in the overtime decision.
Eli McLaughlin got the Loud House rocking exactly three minutes into the contest, as fellow lefty Dylan Kinnear drew his defender and the switching defenseman to the point before sending a quick lob pass to McLaughlin, who bounced one past Scigliano.
Seals’ forward Austin Staats finished a similar opportunity less than three minutes later, receiving a lob and eventually faking Mammoth goaltender Dillon Ward out to tie the game at the 4:26 mark. As the result of an illegal substitution penalty on Colorado, Staats recorded his second of the night and first power-play conversion of the matchup.
Following a scoreless six minutes of action, San Diego’s Dane Dobbie finished a back-door slam with three minutes remaining in the opening period, giving the Seals an early 3-1 lead.
Serving as the Mammoth’s lone first-quarter scorer, McLaughlin finished a diving attempt past Scigliano 13 seconds later to bring Colorado back within one heading into the second quarter.
Dobbie kicked off the second with his second of the night, converting on a right-side iso play and establishing another two-goal lead for San Diego less than two minutes in. The veteran completed his hat trick effort nearly nine minutes later, but was quickly met with a hat-trick effort by the opposition, as McLaughlin recorded his third of the evening at the 11:32 mark.
Ball Arena played “Baby Shark” during Colorado’s first quality offensive possession of the second half … and the squad responded, as Kinnear shook his defender and instantly went crease-side around him before beating Scigliano with a diving effort 96 seconds into the second half.
Rookie forward Brett McIntyre recorded his first career NLL goal to tie the game for Colorado, as the B.C. native collected a deflected pass and fired a step-down shot from the right side.
After Dobbie chose the wrong path behind Colorado’s crease and ran into Ward, the Mammoth capitalized on an informal five-on-four opportunity, with Tyson Gibson joining the set late before streaking toward the net and receiving a pass, only to fire one into the net and grant Colorado a one-goal lead.
A popular weekend for storms in Denver, “Lightning” struck the Loud House 61 seconds later, as defenseman Joey Cupido finished a one-on-none breakaway, extending the Mammoth’s lead to two.
Staats was able to stop the bleeding for San Diego, completing his hat trick at the 9:20 mark of the third. Recording consecutive tallies for the second time, Staats logged his fourth of the evening with a bouncer past Ward to tie the game with two minutes remaining in the third.
Getting the Mammoth back on the board three minutes into the fourth, via the power-play, McLaughlin continued to remind the Loud House why his veteran presence is so important, finishing the extra-man set early in the attempt. But he wouldn’t be stopped at four … as number 51 accepted a high pass from Gibson directly outside the crease and slammed another home, his fifth of the game.
Zack Greer quickly answered for San Diego however, working the switch game before ultimately taking it to the net himself and scoring to reduce Colorado’s lead to one with just over eight minutes to play. Staats kept the run going for the Seals, finding a small bit of space over Ward’s right shoulder, his fifth of the evening.
With just over three minutes remaining in the game, Greer sent a shot on net as the play clock was nearing expiration, which eventually touched twine to give San Diego a late one-goal lead.
And then …. the socks came falling with a minute to play, as McLaughlin was able to complete a six-on-five opportunity while earning his sixth and tying the game.
The dramatic contest made its way to overtime, but San Diego exited the contest victorious, as Dobbie finished the game with a behind-the-back tally to solidify an 11-10 final at Ball Arena Saturday.
Colorado will now head back to Pechanga Arena May 28 for Game 3 of the West Conference Finals.