NLL: Comeback sees Thunderbirds retain perfect record

Colorado Mammoth @ Halifax Thunderbirds, January 11, 2020. (Photo credit: Ellery Platts)

The Halifax Thunderbirds (4-0) made a massive comeback Saturday night to win their fourth straight game 12-9 at Scotiabank Centre, holding first place in the NLL’s North Division.

The Colorado Mammoth (3-2) came to play and had an explosive start getting the first goal 14 seconds into the game, and going on to lead 4-0 after the first six minutes.

Colorado worked hard to hold off the Thunderbirds, forcing them to move the ball around. The forceful start seemed to throw the Thunderbirds off, but Halifax soon retaliated with a breakaway goal by defenceman Graeme Hossack. The Mammoth responded with a goal by forward Kyle Killen after a behind-the-back pass from Ryan Lee. The quarter ended with a 5-3 lead for Colorado and a last-minute goal by Halifax’s Stephen Keogh.

The crowd was in for an aggressive game going into the second quarter seeing a with a fight between Halifax’s Luc Magnan (his first of three penalties on the night) and Colorado’s Jacob Ruest shortly after Lee dove into the crease scoring for the Mammoth. The crowd saw another fight after a dead ball early in the fourth quarter with two men from each side.

Halifax began to close the gap, scoring three goals in 51 seconds, two bouncing through the five-hole of Dillion Ward, ending the half 6-7 for Colorado. They tied it up quickly with a goal in the first minute of the third by Eric Fannell, his fifth of the season and second of the game.

The third quarter ended with Halifax leading 9-8.

Halifax’s Luc Magnan battles with Colorado’s Jacob Ruest. (Photo credit: Ellery Platts)

Ryan Benesch and Chris Boushy seemingly sealed the Thunderbirds’ win with two more goals in the fourth bringing the lead to 11-8 before the Mammoth pulled Ward for an extra-man advantage. The final push led to a goal by forward Jeff Wittig with 30 seconds left in the game, but Hossack buried an empty net goal with 12 seconds remaining to make the final score 12-9 for the Thunderbirds.

Thunderbirds’ captain Cody Jamieson and forward Mike Burke led the team to victory: Burke with five points from his five assists, and Jamieson with four points spread over two goals and two assists.

Ryan Lee led the Mammoth with five points (3G/2A). Chris Wardle and Eli McLaughlin finished the game with four points. Wardle had two goals and two assists and McLaughlin having four assists.

Saves were 50/50, as both Ward and Hill got 57 shots on goal, Ward saving 46 and Hill saving 48.

The two teams won’t match up again for the rest of the season. Colorado next visits Vancouver on Friday night while Halifax hosts the San Diego Seals on Saturday.