LANGLEY, BRITISH COLUMBIA – The Colorado Mammoth playoff woes are finally a thing of the past. The team hadn’t won a postseason game since hoisting the Champion’s Cup in 2006, but that came to an end on Saturday night as Colorado defeated Vancouver, 13-12, at Langley Events Centre in British Columbia to advance to the West Division Finals to take on the Saskatchewan Rush.
In a game the Mammoth never trailed, Colorado held on for the win thanks to a stout defense and a 40-save effort from Dillon Ward. For several veterans on the team, Saturday’s playoff victory was the first of their careers.
“It feels pretty good, I’m not going to lie,” said captain Dan Coates. “For myself, Cam Holding, Joey Cupido, we’re the longer-tenured members who have been here. Just to get that out of the way is great, but we’re excited about the group we have in the locker room. We made some great acquisitions through trades and in the offseason, and we owe that to our management and coaching staff. That’s a gutsy win!”
The Mammoth jumped out to a 3-0 lead in first quarter, then relied on transition opportunities to shoulder the load. Joey Cupido scored on two breakaway opportunities, the second coming a fraction of a second before the halftime horn. Fellow defender Jordan Gilles also netted two in transition, and midseason acquisition Brad Self added another.
“When we’re scoring from the back, I think it takes a bit of weight off the offensive guys,” said head coach Pat Coyle. “We know that we’re going to get goals from both ends, so that was big.”
In a match-up of the League’s two best goaltenders, Ward got the win and made eight more stops than his counterpart, Vancouver’s Tye Belanger.
Colorado led 6-2 in the second, only to see the Stealth answer with four straight. In the fourth, the Mammoth pushed its lead back to four, 13-9, with less than seven minutes to go. Back came the Stealth, thanks to a natural hat trick from Corey Small as part of his six-goal night. His extra-attacker tally with one-minute, 11-seconds remaining proved to be the final marker for either team.
Colorado committed just two minor penalties for the sixth time this season; Vancouver wasn’t whistled for a single infraction. Forward Callum Crawford paced Colorado with three goals while Zack Greer, acquired in the offseason via trade, led the Mammoth with five points (2g, 3a). Eli McLaughlin added two goals, and Chris Wardle buried once.
Colorado hosts Game One of the West Division Finals next Saturday, May 13 at 7:00pm MDT at Pepsi Center. Tickets are on sale now at ColoradoMammoth.com.