With a 12-7 loss to the San Diego Seals in Pechanga Arena, the Colorado Mammoth did not clinch a postseason berth on Friday night. However, the Mammoth are still in the hunt. With a Vancouver loss to Rochester tomorrow, Colorado is in the NLL Playoffs. If the Warriors win tomorrow, the Mammoth still have a chance to clinch with a win next week in their season finale on the road against the Saskatchewan Rush.
Friday night, the Mammoth took unfamiliar turf without forwards Eli McLaughlin, the team’s leading scorer who is now on the injured reserve list, and Cory Vitarelli, a newcomer to the Colorado squad, but a rising star.
In the absence of two lefties, right-handed forward Kyle Killen tried fill the void, netting two goals, one to open the game, and adding two helpers. The 22-year-old rookie's goal-scoring streak is now at 14 games.
After assisting Killen's first goal, Chris Wardle joined him on the scoreboard just over six minutes later in the first quarter. Wardle has now contributed markers in the last four Mammoth games.
Thirty-eight-year-old transition player Brad Self, who has only been back on the active roster from the injured reserve list for one week, also stepped up in a big way, scoring back-to-back goals in the second quarter. The first was a tying tally to put the score at 3-3 while the second gave the Mammoth a 4-3 lead; their third and final lead of the game.
Going into halftime, the Mammoth only trailed by one goal 5-4. But in the third quarter, an immediate goal from Dan Dawson at 0:17 on a power play, followed by a quick one from Kyle Buchanan at 0:48 gave the Seals a more comfortable 7-4 lead.
The Mammoth would come within two tallies, 9-7 Seals, by the end of the third frame, thanks to two-straight Mammoth goals from Jeff Wittig and Ryan Lee to close out the quarter.
Though on the brink of a comeback, the Mammoth couldn’t get all the way there in the final stanza, the Seals shutting them out on a three-goal run in the final 15 minutes to take a 12-7 victory.
Notably, the Mammoth ratcheted up 19 penalty minutes in the game, a single-game high for the team this season, while the Seals racked up 20 minutes. Jeremy Noble, who was back in the Mammoth lineup for the first game since March 3, led the Mammoth in minutes served in the box with seven penalty minutes.
With constant penalties came constant power play goals. Four of San Diego’s goals against Colorado were man-up tallies. The Seals capitalized on four of seven opportunities, while the Mammoth converted two of six opportunities.
Seals forwards Casey Jackson (four goals, and two assists) and Dan Dawson (three goals, four assists) proved nearly unstoppable versus the Mammoth. Meanwhile, Seals goaltender Frank Scigliano stopped 45 out of 52 shots.
Standing in net for the Mammoth, Dillon Ward saved 20 of 29 shots in the first 39:37 of the game before Steve Fryer relieved him for the final 20:23 on the clock, making eight saves on 11 shots.
The Mammoth travel to Saskatchewan next week to play their regular-season finale against the Rush in SaskTel Centre. The game is slated for 6:30 p.m. MT on Saturday, April 27.