NLL: Ward’s strong play leads Mammoth over Swarm on the road

Colorado’s Dillon Ward attempts to stop a dunk shot from Georgia’s Bryan Cole. (Photo credit: Kyle Hess)

In what was a back-and-forth affair, the Colorado Mammoth were able to defeat the Georgia Swarm 13-11 on the road Saturday night at Infinite Energy Arena.

In the end, it was goaltending that made the difference as Colorado’s Dillon Ward made 36 saves on 51 shots, including multiple huge stops in the final minute. Georgia’s Mike Poulin made 33 saves on 46 shots on goal.

“I thought we had some really good shifts. We played really well at times. But there are a lot of really good shooters in this league, and we talked about them. When you let their top guy go off for five goals, that is often the result you get,” Georgia head coach Ed Comeau said in a press release.

Miles Thompson got Georgia going just 23 seconds into the game. Colorado finally got their offense going midway through the first with a Chris Wardle goal, following some stellar goalie play on both ends. Georgia and Colorado traded goals for the rest of the quarter with Georgia taking a 3-2 lead heading into the second.

Despite two consecutive goals from Jacob Ruest to tie things up at four for Colorado midway through the second, the back-and-forth nature of the game ensued through the second quarter. Each squad was able to score late in the second to make it a 5-5 game heading into the half.

Coming out of the half with things all tied up at five, the Swarm seemed to have shot out of a cannon to start the third with two goals in under a minute as Miles Thompson and Bryan Cole each found the back of the net. While Colorado was able to find their rhythm shortly after and go on a two-goal run of their own, Georgia was able to outscore Colorado 5-3 in the third and take a 10-8 lead into the fourth.

While the third was owned by Georgia, Colorado owned the fourth. The Mammoth came out fast and furious, scoring three straight to take an 11-10 lead early in the quarter. Shayne Jackson gave Georgia some momentum with an insane diving goal on the power play, but the Swarm weren’t able to get anything else the rest of the game.

“We made a few bad reads on letting guys get underneath on us, a couple of off-ball looks,” Comeau said

Jacob Ruest pretty much put the game away with a power play goal midway through the fourth and Jeff Wittig scored the final goal of the game with just over six minutes left. Georgia was able to get some opportunities down the stretch to force a comeback, but Dillon Ward continuously shut the door to help secure the win for Colorado.

The Mammoth were led by Jacob Ruest with seven points (5G/2A) and Ryan Lee with eight points (2G/6A). Additionally, Chris Wardle put up six points (2G/4A).

Shayne Jackson led Georgia with six points (3G/3A) while Lyle Thompson also had five points (1G/4A).

Georgia’s next game will be on January 11th at home against the Buffalo Bandits. Colorado’s next contest will be at home against Vancouver on January 4th.