The Saskatchewan Rush held off a fourth-quarter push by the Colorado Mammoth to earn a 9-7 victory this weekend. The win improved the Rush to 8-6 on the season, bringing them to within a half game of the San Diego Seals for first place in the West Division. The Mammoth drop to 6-9, holding on to fourth place in the division and the last spot in the playoff picture. At least for now.
The Rush scored the first three goals of the game, including the only goal of the first period. Colorado finally got on the scoreboard midway through the second quarter, but found themselves down 4-1 at halftime.
The two teams swapped goals in the third quarter, setting the stage for a thrilling final frame.
After only nine goals had been scored through the first three quarters, both offenses erupted. In the first seven minutes of the quarter, both the Rush and the Mammoth scored twice, making the score 8-5. But at 7:56, Saskatchewan’s Ryan Keenan scored his second goal of the game to give the Rush a four-goal buffer.
Colorado made a final push in the dying minutes of the game. Cory Vitarelli narrowed the gap to three goals on the powerplay at the 9:29 mark. Vitarelli scored again at 12:23 with the Mammoth net empty and they kept the pressure on. Rush goaltender Adam Shute, and the defense in front of him held off the attack to earn the win.
Saskatchewan’s defense was dominant on the evening, yielding only 32 shots on goal. On the other end of the floor Colorado goalie Dillon Ward made 46 saves to keep his team in the game.
Rush forward Mark Matthews led all scorers on the night with four points (two goals, two assists) while Vitarelli (2 G, 1 A), Jacob Ruest (3 A), and Ryan Lee (3 A) all contributed three points apiece to the Mammoth cause.
The Rush have a double dip this coming weekend, visiting the first-place Seals on Friday, then hosting the Philadelphia Wings on Saturday. The Rochester Knighthawks visit Colorado on Friday night, with the Mammoth’s playoff destiny in their own hands.