The Colorado Mammoth and Edmonton Rush entered Saturday night’s game at Rexall Place as the two hottest teams in the National Lacrosse League. The Rush had won five straight, the Mammoth three of four. Colorado goalie Tye Belanger stoned his opponent all evening, recording 48 saves in the 9-7 victory.
“The defense is keeping the shots to the outside – they’re packing it in,” said the 22-year-old, who improved to 4-2 this season. “They’re giving me easy saves.”
Hamley’s squad was minus-20 in shots-on-goal. But the Rush only mustered three even-strength tallies. Three of the other four were on the power-play, one was short-handed.
“There’s nothing left to say; the kid’s just been outstanding,” said Hamley of his netminder. “He’s given everybody else confidence. He’s given the coaches confidence. He’s given the defense confidence. In turn, it’s helping our offense be a little more patient and pick their times…”
Casey Powell led the Mammoth with two goals. Seven others had a goal apiece.
The game wasn’t decided until the final seconds. Trailing 8-7 with an extra attacker on the floor, Rush forward Ryan Ward hit the post. Mammoth forward John Grant Jr. then scored the empty-netter with 8.9 seconds remaining.
Colorado has now won four of five, and is peaking at the right time. During the current streak, the defense is allowing just 9.4 goals per game. Belanger lowered his goals-against-average to 9.48, which would lead the league if he had logged enough minutes to qualify.