The Colorado Mammoth overcame a last-minute injury and an early first-half deficit to pick up a 14-12 win over the San Diego Seals in Game 1 of the West Final.
The win gives Colorado a 1-0 series lead in the West Division final. They’ll now have a chance to put the series away next weekend on their home floor.
Both teams were missing key figures heading into this match-up.
Most notably, the Mammoth listed Ryan Lee on the IR list hours before Game 1. Lee put up two goals and eight assists against Calgary in the West semis and has been a big chunk of the offence.
Meanwhile, Zack Greer was out of the lineup for San Diego. While he hasn’t put up numbers compared to early in his career, the Seals were missing a leader on the floor.
Back-and-forth first half
It didn’t take long for Colorado to get on the board. Zed Williams score 36 seconds into the game to draw first blood.
Austin Staats’ goal at 1:51 was the start of a three-goal run for the Seals. A goal by Wes Berg and a power play marker by Casey Jackson gave San Diego a 3-1 lead.
Williams would score his second of the game at 5:30 to bring the Mammoth within one. Twenty-six seconds later Connor Robinson would tie up the game.
San Diego regained their two-goal lead with goals from Tre Leclaire and Jackson to make it 5-3 after the first quarter.
The high-scoring affair continued into the second quarter. Connor Robinson completed the hat trick with two more goals 33 seconds apart to tie the game 5-5.
Once again, the Seals restored their two-goal cushion. Jeremy Noble found the back of the net at 6:20. Patrick Shoemay would make the Mammoth pay for a mistake to score short-handed at 7:45.
Williams would score in the power play at 8:20, but a pair of goals by Dane Dobbie would give the Seals their largest lead of the game 9-6 at the half.
Mammoth bounce back in the second half
Colorado kept chipping away and a five-goal run to start the third-quarter led to the Game 1 victory.
The run included two goals from Eli McLaughlin, Joey Cupido, Robinson and Williams.
Mac O’Keefe finally ended Colorado’s momentum at 11:47 of the third quarter to make it 11-10 before the third-quarter buzzer went off.
The defence was the stars of the fourth quarter. It wasn’t until the 6:18 mark when Dobbie score to get San Diego back in the game.
Dylan Kinnear got the Mammoth the lead back at 9:23. It was short-lived as Leclaire scored 11 seconds later to tie it up 12-12.
However, it was the Colorado offence that found another gear as Williams would score the game-winner and McLaughlin would put in the insurance goal.
Dillon Ward picked up the win between the pipes, stopping 36 of 48 shots. Frank Scigliano stopped 29 of 44 shots in the loss.
Game 2 goes next Saturday night as the Mammoth look to punch their ticket to the NLL final.
Eli McLaughlin, 3g 5a
Connor Robinson, 4g 2a
Zed Williams, 5g 1a
Dane Dobbie, 3g 4a
Jeremy Noble, 1g 4a
Austin Staats, 1g 4a
Shawn Slaght has been a sports reporter across the Canadian prairies for over 10 years. For the past five years, he’s been the Saskatchewan correspondent for LaxPhilly.