The Colorado Mammoth secured a 10-7 victory over the San Diego Seals in front of an energetic Pepsi Center Crowd Feb. 15. Ryan Lee paced Mammoth scorers with six points (1g, 5a) while Dillon Ward stopped 48-of-55 shots to earn his 50th career win.
“The last time we played these guys, our defense was spread out way too much and tonight we were able to pack in it — we gave them the outside shots and that’s when Dillon Ward is at his best,” Mammoth Head Coach Pat Coyle said. “We left Dillon out to dry last time we played San Diego and I think our guys took that to heart and wanted it to be different tonight, and it was.”
In addition to converting on two-of-two power-play opportunities Saturday, the Mammoth logged its league-best sixth shorthanded goal courtesy of Jake McNabb. Saturday’s victory marked the Mammoth’s first victory over the Seals after dropping its first four contests since the franchise entered the league last season.
Rookie forward Dylan Kinnear got the Mammoth on the scoreboard during the game’s opening possession after receiving a pass from Chris Wardle near the key and creating space before streaking a shot past San Diego goaltender Frank Scigliano 25 seconds into the first quarter.
San Diego’s Jeremy Noble evened the game less than a minute later as the former Mammoth forward found space and converted a heater past Colorado goaltender Dillon Ward.
Following a delay of game penalty on Seals’ forward Casey Jackson, Ryan Lee netted his 18th marker of the season over Scigliano’s left shoulder to re-establish Colorado’s lead with five minutes remaining in the opening quarter.
During his NLL debut, rookie forward Jake McNabb logged a shorthanded goal with less than two minutes to play in the quarter to register his first career NLL goal before Noble answered with his second of the night 28 seconds later to bring the Seals back within one.
“It was nice to get the first one out of the way, but it was even better to get an early goal for the team,” Jake McNabb shared in a postgame interview. “I’ve been waiting for that moment since I was three years old, so it was a dream come true.”
Kinnear picked up his second of the contest from the left side with a fierce shot past Scigliano’s near side with one second remaining in the first quarter to grant Colorado a 4-2 lead heading into the second session.
Chris Wardle cashed in with a diving goal to register the first marker at the 7:17 mark of the second quarter after receiving a pass from Ryan Lee behind the net to give Colorado a three-goal lead. Connor Fields snuck one by Ward on the next possession to bring the Seals back within two.
Faceoff specialist Tim Edwards recorded a transition goal during a three-on-two breakaway and buried a pass from John Lintz with just under three minutes remaining in the half.
As the result of a holding the stick penalty called on Joey Cupido, San Diego logged a power-play tally courtesy of Noble, who completed his first half hat trick with the score and finalized a 6-4 Mammoth lead heading into halftime.
Lee (1g, 3a) and Noble (3g, 1a) led the scoring charge during the first half, as each of the forwards scored four points.
“We worked better as a unit tonight instead of a set of individuals,” Coyle shared.
A holding the stick penalty on Eli Gobrecht led to McNabb’s first career power-play marker and second career NLL goal in the rookie’s first contest with a wind-up shot from the top of the key three-and-a-half minutes into the second half.
Following a series of passes around the shell of the offensive zone, Jacob Ruest launched a ferocious over-the-shoulder shot from just outside the crease and notched a tally for Colorado less than two minutes later. Nick Damude entered the game for the Seals following Ruest’s goal to relieve Scigliano.
Zach Greer got free on a pick-and-roll and sent a bounce shot past Ward with six minutes to play in the third to bring the Seals back within three goals. Gobrecht converted a bounce shot past Ward’s left side with three minutes to play in the third quarter to make it an 8-6 game.
Connor Kearnan registered San Diego’s third-consecutive goal with a quick shot over Ward’s left shoulder to bring the Seals within one with six minutes left in the contest.
A streaking Jordan Gilles received a pass from Dan Coates during a two-on-one breakaway and buried a fiery shot past Damude’s short side at the 12:21 mark to give Colorado an insurance tally.
Eli McLaughlin solidified the victory with an empty-net goal with 15 seconds remaining to give the Mammoth its fourth divisional win of the year.
“I think it was a real point of emphasis Friday at practice that we didn’t give them our best game last time we played and that we needed to tighten up defensively and limit their opportunities,” Mammoth goaltender Dillon Ward said.
Despite only recording four goals in the second half, which included a span of nearly 18 scoreless minutes for the Mammoth, and logging 14 less shots than San Diego, Colorado pulled off the win in the streaky-scoring tilt and improves to 5-6 on the year.
Robert Hope recorded 11 loose balls to improve upon his team-high 98 for the season. Rookies McNabb (2g, 1a) and Kinnear (2g, 1a) finished with three points each.
Through 11 games, forward Ryan Lee leads the Mammoth in goals (18) points (49) and assists (31) after recording six points (1g, 5a) Feb. 15 against the San Diego Seals.
Lee’s six-point outing represents his fourth five-plus point game of the season and the forward’s fifth-consecutive three-plus point performance.
“We’re looking forward to some time to get over some bumps and bruises – We’ve played a lot of games to start the season, so we want to get better, get more fit and some rest before we get back at it against Philadelphia,” Coyle said.
Tickets to Colorado’s Feb. 29 matchup against the Philadelphia Wings, and all Mammoth home games, can be purchased at AltitudeTickets.com. Mammoth road games can be streamed live via Bleacher Report Live.