With one month still remaining in the regular season, the Colorado Mammoth (9-3) became the first team in the National Lacrosse League to clinch a playoff berth when it defeated the Calgary Roughnecks, 13-12, in overtime on Saturday at Pepsi Center on ‘Lacrosse Out Cancer’ Night presented by the Sarah Cannon Cancer Network at HealthONE.
Forward John Grant, Jr. scored his fourth goal of the night – the game-winner – less than two minutes into the extra frame to send Colorado to the postseason and remain undefeated (6-0) at home. The Mammoth tied its win-total (nine) from last season and matched the number of home wins it had (six) all of last year.
Saturday’s game wasn’t always pretty, but it allowed the team a chance to accomplish the first of many preseason goals.
“Every game is critical for us,” said captain Dan Coates. “We want to be peaking at the right time and we still have a lot of room for improvement. We made our first goal – to make the playoffs – but we’re not satisfied with that. We want to be playing deep into May, and June.”
That’s something Colorado hasn’t been able to do for years, primarily due to early exits in the postseason at the hands of Calgary.
Goaltender Dillon Ward was pulled midway through the third quarter with Colorado trailing 10-8 after allowing six straight goals. Alex Buque was strong in relief, denying 14 of the 16 shots on goal that he faced. But the biggest play of the night, other than the OT winner, came from the netminder who ventured from the cage and decleated Karsen Leung on a fast-break.
“I think it was big momentum,” said coach Dan Stroup. “The crowd obviously got into it!”
The Mammoth has now won its last 11 home games that were decided by one goal, dating back to 2013. The team’s five one-goal home wins this season extends a new team record. And the five one-goal games at Pepsi Center is tied for the most in Mammoth history.
The Saskatchewan Rush defeated the Toronto Rock later Saturday evening to earn a postseason berth as well.
Colorado travels to New England to take on the Black Wolves (7-4) next Saturday, Apr. 2 at 5pm MST.