Another OT Win, Mammoth Perfect Under Govett
DENVER -- For the second time in two nights, the Colorado Mammoth earned overtime wins on the road.
Following a 15-14 victory over the Minnesota Swarm Friday night in St. Paul, Minn., the Mammoth travelled further east into the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia, for a Saturday night tilt against the Wings. Mammoth president and general manager, Steve Govett, who made his debut as interim head coach in Friday’s win, was back in familiar territory Saturday. He was part of the powerhouse Philly team in the mid-1990’s that won three championships. On this night, however, he was on the opposite bench earning a 12-11 win in an extra frame.
The Mammoth got the scoring started with an early goal from forward Jed Prossner, just 80 seconds after the opening faceoff. The opening quarter proved to be a low-scoring frame, with one goal from the Wings’ Thomas Hajek followed by a goal from Mammoth rookie Alex Gajic, assisted by his brother, Ilija. The quarter ended with the Mammoth up 2-1.
The offensive pace picked up in the second quarter. Kyle Wailes of the Wings scored just 35 seconds in to tie the game up at two apiece. The Mammoth answered with a power play goal from Cory Conway. On a quick turnaround, the Wings put one in just eight seconds later. Both teams finished the quarter with four goals, bringing the first half to an end with the Mammoth leading 6-5.
The second half started with a tying goal by Philadelphia’s Dan Teat. The Mammoth relied on Ilija Gajic to take the lead back, receiving a pass from Tom Ethington, then coming off a screen near the top of the offensive zone to free himself from his defender for a goal. The Wings responded immediately with a Drew Westervelt goal just nine seconds later. Colorado’s Chad Culp took a Jed Prossner assist through the heart of the Philadelphia defense, scoring a bounce shot past Wings’ goalie Brandon Miller. Colorado’s next goal came in dramatic fashion with Ilija Gajic securing a one-handed loose ball, then ripping a shot into the net with just one second remaining on the shot clock. Soon after, the Wings’ Jason Crosbie capitalized on a Mammoth turnover to score a transition goal with just 14 seconds left in the quarter, which brought the Wings to within one at 9-8.
Colorado’s offense cooled off at the start of the fourth quarter as the Wings were able to put together three unanswered goals. The first came off a Brian Langtry pass which was intercepted by Philadelphia’s Geoff Snider. The former University of Denver standout fed Mat Giles, who buried his third goal of the night. The Wings then took the lead with a Drew Westervelt goal, and extended their lead with an acrobatic goal by Bill McGlone.
The Mammoth showed great resilience and patience as some deliberate offense led to a Cliff Smith goal that cut the Philadelphia lead to one. An untimely penalty on Colorado’s Nick Carlson threatened to stymie the Mammoth comeback, but league points leader Jamie Shewchuk scooped up a fast-break outlet pass from Rich Catton, then drove the short-handed, game-tying goal home with 2:06 left in the final quarter. The Mammoth had one more good scoring chance before the end of regulation, but was unable to convert, sending the game to overtime.
The Mammoth and Wings traded possessions in overtime before the Mammoth caught a fortunate break with a two-minute goalie interference penalty called on Philadelphia’s McGlone. The Mammoth patiently worked the ball around and was able to expose the Wings’ defense. Colorado’s Ilija Gajic threaded a cross-crease pass to his brother Alex, who was able to beat Miller for the game-winning goal.
“It feels good,” said Alex Gajic. “Our ball movement was great on that possession and Ilija put it right on my stick. One quick stick and we were winners.”
With five of their next six games at home on HealthONE Field at Pepsi Center, Colorado returns home next Saturday, Jan. 30. Game time is 7 p.m. as the Washington Stealth visits Pepsi Center on Heroes’ Night. Tickets are on sale now.
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