March 10, 2012

Mammoth Improves to 8-1 With Win Over Stealth

from press release

If there was one team that has had the Colorado Mammoth's number recently, it is the Washington Stealth.

The Stealth franchise had won eight straight games against the Mammoth, but they wouldn't get their ninth on Saturday night.

A minute after Washington tied the game with two minutes remaining in regulation, Colorado forward Sean Pollock scored from the top of the slot with one minute left and the Mammoth added another tally late to pick up a 13-11 win in front of the largest crowd of the season at Pepsi Center – 17,116.

"To be able to do that at the end of the game in front of this crowd – you've never heard a crowd in this league that loud – I was getting goosebumps as the ball was going in," Pollock said. "It was a good feeling."

Colorado held an 11-9 lead early in the fourth quarter, but Washington battled back and tied the contest at 11 on a Matt Grimes breakaway goal with 2:04 to play.

Following Pollock's game-winner, Washington was pushing the pace up the floor and had a couple of good looks on Colorado goaltender Chris Levis, but was unable to find the back of the net. Levis finished with 38 saves.

The Mammoth added another goal late after Cameron Holding was taken down on a breakaway to the empty net. By rule, that automatically gives the team with the breakaway the score.

Adam Jones led all Mammoth scorers with three goals and four assists. Pollock, Derek Hopcroft and Jamie Lincoln all finished with a pair of goals for Colorado.

The win is the Mammoth's second in a row and improves them to 8-1 overall – best in the National Lacrosse League. Colorado has a one-and-a-half game lead over Calgary in the West Division. Washington drops to 2-7 overall.

Colorado was without the league's leading scorer, John Grant Jr., who missed the game with an upper body injury. Grant had 31 goals and 37 assists for 68 points in the first eight games of the season.

"Nothing changed. We just didn't have John Grant Jr. out there," said Colorado head coach Bob Hamley of his offense. "We have some talent on the offensive end and Junior will be the first one to tell you that his success is because of the people around him."

Colorado held an early 3-1 lead after Lincoln scored twice and Jones once in the first five minutes of the contest.

However, any early momentum the Mammoth had picked up disappeared after Dan Coates picked up a five-minute major penalty for high sticking. The Stealth scored three times while being a man-up – including once with a 5-on-3 advantage on the floor after Pollock took an elbowing infraction.

"They got a couple goals on it, but I think it tired them out," Jones said. "Once the penalty was over, we had a little more energy to run the floor on them and get some transition and get some goals."

Less than a minute after Coates left the penalty box, Colorado went on its own run, scoring four times in 1:36. Jordan McBride, Hopcroft, Pollock and Jones scored during the sequence.

Washington cut Colorado's lead to 7-5 after the first quarter on a late goal by Jeff Zywicki.

Colorado picked up two tallies in the second stanza, both from similar shots at the top of the slot. Captain Gavin Prout scored on the power play at 8:35 of the quarter while Hopcroft scored with 1:34 remaining. The Stealth matched the Mammoth's output with two scores of its own and almost had a third one in the final seconds on a shot from behind the net, but it was ruled a no-goal.

Washington cut the Mammoth lead to 9-8 at 6:38 of the third quarter following a Lewis Ratcliff goal, but Colorado was quick to respond, just 43 seconds later with an Ilija Gajic score, the 25th of his career. The Stealth added one more, making the score 10-9 in favor of Colorado going into the final 15 minutes.

The Mammoth and the Stealth will square off on Sunday night in Everett, Wash., in the second half of the home-and-home weekend series. Colorado can clinch a playoff berth with a victory tomorrow night. That game begins at 6 p.m. MT.

The Mammoth's next home game is on March 23 versus the Philadelphia Wings at 7 p.m.


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