Edmonton Wins Game One of Crucial West Division Home-and-Home Series
from press release
EDMONTON, Alberta – The Colorado Mammoth lost an important West Division game to the Edmonton Rush, 14-10, at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alberta on Friday night on the front-end of the home-and-home series. The two teams will meet again at Pepsi Center in Denver on Saturday night.
Colorado relied on only three players to score all 10 goals on the night. Mammoth forwards John Grant Jr. and Alex Gajic both finished with four goals and two assists while forward Joel Dalgarno added two goals and an assist. A balanced Rush offense that featured eight different goal-scorers, coupled with shaky goaltending by the Mammoth, proved too much for Colorado to overcome despite outshooting Edmonton, 57-49.
The game got off to a sloppy start for the Mammoth that included several unforced turnovers and errant passes. Despite the give-aways, Colorado got on the board first as Grant scored on an over-the-shoulder shot with his back to the goal at the 4:11 mark. Edmonton answered though, scoring the next three goals of the quarter. Two of the three came on special teams, with Scott Evans scoring on the power play at 10:49 and Corey Small recording a short-handed goal with 52 seconds remaining in the quarter. The Rush carried a 3-1 lead through 15 minutes of play.
Edmonton scored two early goals in the second before the Mammoth could find the net. Dalgarno, playing in just his second game for Colorado since he was acquired on the trade deadline day on March 15, beat his defender on a cut down the middle, then beat Rush goalie Matt Disher after catching a pass from another recent acquisition, forward Gavin Prout. Prout, the former Colorado captain who was reacquired by the Mammoth from the Rush on the trade deadline day, led the team with five assists.
"It means everything to have Gavin," said Grant. "He settled the offense and brought some immediate leadership."
Later in the second quarter, Rush captain Brodie Merrill scored Edmonton's next goal, the team's sixth of the game, as he outran the Mammoth defense and beat Mammoth goalie Chris Levis on a laser shot in transition. Grant tallied his second and third goals of the night to finish the scoring for the half - the first coming on an effortless outside shot during a Mammoth power play, the second after collecting his own rebound and slipping a bounce-shot into the net to bring the halftime score to 6-4, Edmonton.
To start the third quarter, Edmonton pushed its lead to four as Rush forward Dean Hill took advantage of an open net when Levis stepped out to challenge the Rush offense. Then, a strong individual effort by Rush forward Corey Small resulted in a dive-shot goal. Colorado scored its first goal of the quarter as Gajic finished a set of tic-tac-toe passing by the Mammoth power-play unit at the 5:59 mark. Edmonton answered right back on Evans' third goal of the evening to bring the score to 9-5. Colorado brought the score to within three when Gajic gathered a loose ball in front of the net on a power play and tucked the ball past Disher. But, Edmonton added two more goals in the quarter to bring the score to 11-6 at the end of the third.
The Rush scored two more goals to start the final frame before Dalgarno could score on an outside shot. Grant followed with an acrobatic, behind-the-back goal to bring the Mammoth back to within five only to allow another Rush goal by Evans at the 7:08 mark. Gajic went on to score his third and fourth goals of the night to bring the Mammoth to within four but it ended up being as close as Colorado would get, losing 14-10.
"We had too many lapses and got in a hole on the road," said Grant.
The Mammoth will have an opportunity to exact revenge as it hosts the Rush on HealthONE Field at Pepsi Center on Saturday night at 7 p.m. MDT in the back-end of the home-and-home series. Colorado won its last home game, 9-8, in overtime to defeat the Boston Blazers. The Mammoth will look for its second consecutive home win.