December 29, 2013

Edmonton Rallies From Early Deficit to Opening Win

from Press Releases

Edmonton kicked off its 2014 season with a nail-biting win at Colorado. (Edmonton Rush)

The Edmonton Rush defeated the Colorado Mammoth with a nail-biting 13-10 road win at Pepsi Center on Saturday night to kick off the 2014 NLL season.

Edmonton earned their first win in a season opener since 2007 after holding onto a late Colorado charge as the Mammoth had pulled within one goal with two minutes left in the fourth quarter.

The Rush capitalized on six goals in the second quarter and added three more to start the second half, while holding the Mammoth to three total scores in that 30-minute span.

"We were a little sluggish coming out of the gate," Edmonton general manager and head coach Derek Keenan said. "I think we were a bit tentative and a bit rusty there...our defense kind of got us going, created some turnovers and we got running the floor pretty well and we started executing our offense pretty good...all in all you come in here the first week, it's nice to get a win."

It did not take long for Colorado to get on the board, as Jamie Lincoln put the Mammoth up 1-0 just 36 seconds into the game. The home team would add three more in the opening frame to take a 4-2 advantage, but it would be all Edmonton in the following 15 minutes. Zack Greer scored his first of the night 39 seconds into the second quarter, the first of six in that quarter for the Rush to give the road team a 8-6 lead going into the half.

"All the good things we did to get to 4-1 we forgot and continued to do it," Mammoth head coach Bob Hamley commented. "They made some adjustments, their defense is good and Bold settled down a bit. We got to be better through that mid section for sure."

Much like last season, Colorado seemed to appear flat and off queue coming out of the locker room. The Rush capped off a six goal run with three more in the third quarter before John Grant Jr. broke the scoring drought for the home team, netting the first goal for Colorado in over 20 minutes of game time. The Mammoth pulled within one goal late in the fourth, but a pair of critical mistakes resulted in two quick Rush scores to silence the rallying home crowd.

"It's frustrating, we were all ready to go tonight, and nerves got the best of us there in the second quarter on that run," said Mammoth forward Adam Jones. "That seems to be something that we got to work on."

Curtis Knight (3g, 3a), Cory Conway (2g, 3a) and Greer (3g, 2a) led the charge for Edmonton, while Jones (4g, 2a) and Grant (3g, 1a) highlighted the Colorado offense.

"Sometimes you have more chances than other games, it seemed like tonight they were going in...I'm glad I was able to contribute and hope to continue that," Curtis chimed.

Aaron Bold saved 30 of 40 in net for Edmonton in the win. On the opposite end Tye Belanger posted 15 saves on 26 shots before being relieved by rookie Dillon Ward late in the third quarter. Ward, the third overall selection in this year's Entry Draft, made 10 saves on 12 shots faced in relief for Belanger.

"I'm disappointed, we had a good training camp and thought they were ready," Hamley added. "I thought we made some real bad mental mistakes. When the lights are turned on you got to be better, and it's really disappointing. We'll have to regroup and figure it out."

Edmonton will have a one-week rest before hosting Colorado in their second of four regular season matchups this season on January 11. The Mammoth meanwhile will regroup before playing host to the Vancouver Stealth on January 4.

***

DENVER – Starting and finishing the game on scoring sprees seemed like a positive formula for the Colorado Mammoth in its National Lacrosse League opener Saturday night.

The early and late bursts, however, weren't enough for the Mammoth to overcome a mid-game swoon that included a near 20-minute scoreless stretch in a 13-10 loss to the Edmonton Rush at Pepsi Center.

"I'm disappointed, because we had a good training camp and I thought they were ready," Mammoth coach Bob Hamley said. "We made some real bad mental mistakes that, when the lights are on, you have to be better. We're going to have to regroup and figure it out."

Third-year forward Adam Jones led the Mammoth with four goals and added two assists, and John Grant Jr. contributed three goals and one assist. Colorado erupted to a 4-1 lead in front of an enthusiastic opening-night crowd, but Edmonton followed with a 10-2 run that stretched into the third quarter.

The Rush, which went an NLL-best 7-1 on the road last season, kept the Mammoth off the board for 19 minutes, 37 seconds after a Jones goal put Colorado ahead 6-5 midway through the second quarter. The drought allowed Edmonton to build an 11-6 lead.

"All the good things we did to get to 4-1, we didn't continue to do it," Hamley said. "They made some adjustments and their defense is good, but we have to get better through that middle section for sure."

The Mammoth got a lift from reserve goalie Dillon Ward, who replaced starter Tye Belanger after Edmonton took the five-goal lead with 3:48 remaining in the third. Ward stopped 10 of 12 shots and didn't permit a goal during his first 17:11 in the net.

That allowed the Mammoth to put together a Grant-fueled rally of its own, which trimmed the deficit to 11-10. But Edmonton got tallies from Curtis Knight (3g, 3a) and Cory Conway (2g, 3a) in the final 1:37 to put it away. Zack Greer added three goals and two assists for the Rush.

"You win and lose games in transition, and tonight we had a few unfortunate bounces," Jones said. "It's something we'll have to fix up."

The contest featured the NLL's previous two Rookie Of The Year winners in Colorado's Jones (2012) and Edmonton forward Mark Matthews, a former University of Denver player. Matthews registered three assists.


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