The No. 4 seeded Mammoth join the chase for the NLL Championship this Friday, meeting the No. 1 seeded Saskatchewan Rush at SaskTel Centre for the one-and-done Western Division Semifinal.
The Mammoth have made 16 postseason appearances in their 17 seasons as a team, bringing home the NLL Champion’s Cup once in 2006. Colorado is currently on the longest active playoffs streak in the NLL, now spanning nine seasons.
The Rush are also on a long-standing playoffs streak. For six consecutive seasons, the Rush have entered the postseason as first seed in the Western Division. In three of the past six seasons as the No. 1 seed, the Rush have won the NLL Championship.
Last Time Out
Saskatchewan forward Marty Dinsdale played a lights-out first half against the Colorado Mammoth last Saturday, scoring three of his four total goals on the Rush’s run to an 11-1 lead by halftime. After the break, a fired-up Mammoth squad came back to outscore the Rush, 7-2, in the final two frames with a hat-trick by Jeremy Noble (three goals, one assist), and scores by Ryan Lee (two goals, one assist), Brad Self (one goal, two assists) and Chris Wardle (one goal, two assists). Though the Mammoth left an impression on the Rush’ turf in the latter half of the regular-season finale, they ceded the game in a 13-8 Rush victory.
What to Watch
It is improbable that either the Mammoth or the Rush will win the Western Division Semifinal with a second-half comeback. The game-winning team will likely be the one that leaves the first half with the lead.
The Rush went 10-0 when leading after the second quarter in the regular season, while the Mammoth went 4-1.
Interestingly, in both Division Final meetings between the Mammoth and Rush in the 2017 NLL Playoffs, the teams were tied after the second quarter. The Rush won both games.
The Mammoth and Rush both went 0-3 in one-goal games in the 2018-19 season. Colorado lost two of their one-goal games in overtime and Saskatchewan lost one in overtime. Fans may be in for an exciting and unpredictable extra stanza if the Mammoth and Rush keep their contest tight this Friday.
Who to Watch
Mammoth: Jacob Ruest
Ruest lead the Mammoth with nine assists and 11 points versus the Rush in the three-game regular-season series between the teams. On Saskatchewan’s squad, Mark Matthews and Ryan Keenan tallied seven assists versus Colorado in the regular season, but none of their players reached nine assists.
Mammoth: Ryan Lee
Lee lead the Mammoth with four goals against the Rush in the teams’ 2018-19 series. Lee scored two of those goals, back-to-back, in the fourth quarter last Saturday.
Mammoth: Eli McLaughlin
If there was ever a weekend for McLaughlin’s triumphant return, it’s this weekend. The Mammoth placed McLaughlin on the injured reserve list after facing off against Rochester on April 12.
Even though he missed the final two games, the 25-year-old five-year veteran was the Mammoth’s leading scorer in the 2018-19 regular season with 35 goals and 41 assists for 76 points.
McLaughlin has continued to travel with the team while on the injured reserve list, but there has not been any word on his return to the turf.
Saskatchewan: Kyle Rubisch
Rubisch, a nine-year NLL veteran and four-time NLL Defensive Player of the Year (2012-2015), forced 15 turnovers in three regular-season meetings with the Mammoth, forcing six of them last Saturday. In comparison, Joey Cupido lead the Mammoth in caused turnovers against the Rush after three games but forced just seven turnovers.
The Western Division Semifinal is slated for 7:30 p.m. MT on Friday, May 3 at SaskTel Centre. Fans can live-stream the game on Bleacher Report Live and Fan Seat. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. MT.
The Mammoth are hosting local watch parties at Hooters in Lone Tree and at Bender’s in Westminster. For more information, click here.