Jeremy Noble’s hat-trick led the Colorado Mammoth to a 14-13 win over the Vancouver Stealth on Friday night at Pepsi Center.
The win moves the Mammoth to 4-1 and pulls them into a tie for first place in the NLL’s western division with the Saskatchewan Rush. The Stealth, without Logan Schuss and Joel McCready, fall to 1-5 and 3.5 games back to claim last place in the west.
The Stealth made a late push in a back-and-forth game to take a 13-12 lead, but Noble’s high overhand shot beat Eric Penny clean to the right corner at 13:36. Fifty-three seconds after that and with 31 seconds left to play, Noble shot again at a sharper angle and hit the same corner.
“It is frustrating to drop the game when you are up one or two goals in the final quarter. We need to close those games out. This game was a stinger,” said Stealth forward Tony Malcom in a team press release. “We need to get back out there and focus on winning.”
Colorado led 2-1 after the first quarter. Vancouver’s only goal was scored by Andrew Suitor, his first of the season.
The Mammoth led 3-1 and 4-3 in the second before the Stealth took control with a four-goal run to lead 7-4. Eli McLaughlin got one back for the Mammoth before the end of the first half.
Three in a row from the Mammoth gave them some momentum in the third quarter. Ryan Benesch scored on a power play at 4:33. Stephen Keogh followed that up 1:03 later and Joey Cupido picked up the ball on the ensuing faceoff to cap the run eight seconds later and tie the game at eight. Malcolm scored two in a row to restore the Stealth lead and Noble picked up his first of the game to end the quarter 10-9 Stealth.
Ryan Lee and McLaughlin traded power play goals to open up the fourth and an 11-10 Mammoth lead. Rhys Duch tied the game at 11 by the 3:22 mark. Benesch and Casey Jackson, with the first of his career, traded goals for a 12-12 tie. The Stealth took the lead at 12:30 when Duch beat three defensemen only to be stopped by Dillon Ward, but a Johnny-on-the-spot Malcolm quickly picked up the rebound while Ward was still fumbling.
Noble’s eight points led the Mammoth, who also received a big game from Benesch’s four goals and two assists. Jacob Ruest contributed five assists.
Corey Small led the Stealth with four goals and five assists. Malcolm also finished with four goals.
The Mammoth host the Rush in a first-place showdown on February 2nd. The Stealth have no time off as they’re right back in action tonight, hosting the Georgia Swarm at 10 p.m. EST.