Rush Mammoth Comeback Falls Short In Denver

The Saskatchewan Rush orchestrated a stirring second-half comeback attempt but it ultimately fell short as the Colorado Mammoth survived to capture a 14-11 verdict in Denver on Saturday night.
Colorado, which had dropped both games to Saskatchewan earlier this season, let a pair of five-goal leads get away as the Rush stormed back, but the Mammoth prevailed by coming alive in the fourth quarter. The loss prevented the two-time defending league champion Rush from clinching a spot in the 2017 playoffs although they remain first in the West Division.
Playing less than 24 hours after beating Calgary at home on Friday night, the Rush held a 2-1 lead after the first quarter, but then for the second straight game, they ran into penalty troubles. The Mammoth scored seven goals in the second quarter, including three on the power play. Jeremy Noble led the Colorado charge registering a natural hat trick in the span of 5:18 with this third straight marker coming on the man-advantage as he launched a shot over the shoulder of Rush goalie Aaron Bold to make the score 7-3. Eli McLaughlin closed out the Mammoth’s scoring barrage in the second as he slam-dunked a shot from behind the Saskatchewan net. The goal was initially waved off for a crease violation, but went in favor of the Mammoth on a coach’s challenge video review.
Colorado’s 8-3 halftime lead disappeared in a flash during the Rush’s offensive siege in the third quarter. Mark Matthews got the Rush rolling with a shot that beat Mammoth goalie Dillon Ward, and right after a return goal from Colorado’s Callum Crawford, Saskatchewan’s Robert Church grabbed the ball off a scramble and beat a screened Ward to make the score 9-5. After Ben McIntosh used a screen to slide a shot to the far corner, Church posted his second with a shorthanded tally as he squeezed past two defenders before firing a shot home.
Former Rush Zack Greer answered back on the same Colorado power play, but the Rush engineered a second straight three-gun run that was launched by Adam Jones as he fought off a defender to snare a rebound and then lunge towards the crease before slipping a shot past Ward. McIntosh’s laser from outside closed the gap and the Rush then knotted things up 10-10 when Church completed his hat trick as he beat Ward through the legs for his league-leading 17th power-play goal.
Marty Dinsdale’s second of the night – a shifty effort right in front of the Colorado net – gave the Rush their first lead since the first quarter, but Noble tallied his fourth of the game with a power-play strike that tied the game 11-11. The Mammoth stomped their way back into control on a goal by Jacob Ruest’s and the hat-trick tally from Greer. Crawford iced the result just moments after Ward shut the Rush down for a final time with a spectacular stop in tight on McIntosh with 2:12 remaining.
“It was not as much physical fatigue as mental fatigue which caused some lack of discipline that took us out of it,” said Rush GM/head coach Derek Keenan.
“I’m proud of the way we came back in the second half and we got a lead, but I think we ran out of gas in the fourth. I’m still happy with the effort and the way we battled back.”

After having two terrific efforts foiled by the Rush in the games earlier this season, Ward was finally rewarded with a victory as he racked up 46 saves. Colorado ended the night 5-for-9 on the power play.
Adrian Sorichetti had Saskatchewan’s other goal on the night. Matthews finished on top of the Rush scoring with six points (2 goals, 4 assists) while Bold totaled 32 saves.
The Rush are back on the road next Saturday as they travel east to play the Buffalo Bandits in the teams’ first encounter since Saskatchewan swept the 2016 Champion’s Cup Final.