The Colorado Mammoth hosted the San Diego Seals Friday night for a crucial West Division matchup with major playoff implications. The Seals would win the West Division title with a win or a Calgary loss to Las Vegas. A Mammoth win keeps them in control of the Wild Card playoff spot, and would vault them into 3rd place if Panther City loses on Saturday. In an extremely chippy affair that could be a first-round or a conference final preview, the Mammoth emerged with a huge 15-14 victory. The outcome has three significant ramifications for the upcoming postseason.

First, the Mammoth move into a 3rd place tie with Panther City at 9-7, pending the outcome of Panther City’s game against Vancouver this week. Colorado holds the head-to-head tiebreaker on Panther City, having won the season series 2-1. As a result, Panther City must stay one game ahead of the Mammoth if they want a secure playoff spot. Second, the win means the Saskatchewan Rush (6-9, 5th place West) are eliminated from playoff contention with any more losses. Lastly, the win drastically reduces the probability of a 5th place team in the East winning the Wild Card in a crossover. Colorado owns tiebreakers over Rochester, Georgia, Halifax, and Philadelphia, any of whom can finish 5th in the East at present.

Meanwhile, the Seals fall to 12-4 with the loss, but still lead the West Division by a half-game over Calgary. They can win the West Division with either two wins or a win and a Calgary loss. However, this loss keeps the door open for Calgary to take the top seed in the West.

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Slim halftime lead for Mammoth

The game had a heated playoff atmosphere from the start, as nine penalties were called in the first quarter alone. Dane Dobbie (3g, 4a) opened the scoring, beating Colorado goaltender Dillon Ward a minute and 31 seconds into the contest. Tim Edwards won the ensuing faceoff and fed Anthony Joaquim (1:42) in transition for the equalizer. After an illegal substitution call on the Seals, Ty Thompson (2g; 3:22) gave the Mammoth a 2-1 lead with a power play goal.

Colorado would then commit a pair of penalties themselves, and San Diego would capitalize. Wes Berg (6g, 3a) scored back-to-back power play goals (6:37; 7:08), to restore the Seals’ lead, 3-2. Danny Logan won the next faceoff and scored in transition (7:15) before Dobbie’s second (8:43) extended the lead to 5-2. The Seals’ Brodie Merrill then tangled with Dylan Kinnear, earning both of them double minors. Connor Robinson (3g, 1a; 10:45) broke San Diego’s four-goal run, but Austin Staats (3g, 1a; 11:31) replied to make it 6-3 after one quarter.

Berg scored his third power play goal of the game 59 seconds into the second quarter to make it 7-3. The rest of the quarter was all Mammoth, as they went on a five-goal run. Robinson’s second (3:22) was followed by Josh Sullivan scoring in transition (3:56). Tyson Gibson (1g, 1a; 8:27) went top cheese on Seals goalie Frank Scigliano, then John Lintz (1g, 1a; 9:00) scored another transition goal to tie the game. Eli McLaughlin (3g, 3a; 10:53) then struck just under two minutes later to give Colorado an 8-7 halftime lead.

Mammoth respond to late charge for big win

Ryan Lee (1g, 7a; 0:21 third quarter) extended the Mammoth goal run to six and the lead to two before Kevin Crowley (1g, 1a; 1:04) responded for the Seals, cutting the Colorado lead to 9-8. Thompson (4:04) and Williams (5:16) pushed the lead to 11-8, chasing Scigliano from the game in favor of Chris Origlieri. The 20-year old backup was almost instantly greeted by Robinson’s hat trick goal (5:37). Staats ended the Colorado run with a power play marker (7:27), but Williams added his second (9:43) to make it 13-9.

San Diego put Scigliano back in net following that goal; he remained in net for the rest of the game. The Seals then went on a five-goal run into the fourth quarter, fueled in part by a heavyweight tilt. Merrill and Williams exchanged blows, the fight ending when Williams body slammed Merrill to the turf. Following the fight, Berg notched his fourth power play goal of the night (12:14), followed by another tally at 14:09 to close the gap to 13-11 going into the final frame. Berg’s fifth power play goal at 1:21 of the fourth quarter made it a one-goal game. Staats (1:54 power play) tied it, then Dobbie (5:37) gave San Diego their first lead since the second quarter.

Not to be undone, the Mammoth used the flaring tempers to their advantage late in the fourth. Merrill, who was playing in his 275th career regular season game (passing Derek Suddons for third all-time in that category) was called for a high-sticking major. It was his second major penalty of the game (the fight with Williams being the first), so by rule, he was assessed a 10-minute game misconduct penalty and ejected from the game. McLaughlin scored twice on the extended power play (6:56; 10:24) to give the Mammoth a 15-14 lead. San Diego had an opportunity to tie the game late with an extra attacker on the floor. With just seconds remaining, Staats fired a shot that got past Ward, but clanged off the post at the junction and bounced back into the San Diego end, preserving a hard-fought victory for the home side.

Other Stats of Note

Power Play: SD 7 of 8; COL 4 of 7

Scigliano (SD): 34 saves; Ward (COL): 41 saves

Tim Edwards (COL): 19 of 33 on faceoffs, plus some insane stick skills below!

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“Muffler” Mike Kostiuk

“Muffler” Mike Kostiuk was formally introduced to box lacrosse when he attended a New England Black Wolves game on a whim in 2016. Instantly hooked, he has since become an avid follower of the National Lacrosse League. Following the postponement of the 2019-2020 NLL season, he was offered the chance to share his wealth of statistical knowledge and unique insights with the lacrosse community at large. He cheerfully accepted, and covers NLL, PLL, WLA, and Major Series Lacrosse for the network.