It was an evening of milestones for the Colorado Mammoth (5-5) as they downed the Minnesota Swarm (3-7) on Sunday by a final of 12-8 at Pepsi Center in Denver.
“It’s great to get [one] in the win column, wins are tough in this league,” said Mammoth coach Chris Gill. “End of the day, our goaltending and defense stepped it up and kept us in it.”
In his NLL debut after being acquired from Rochester via trade on Friday, Mammoth rookie first-rounder Jeremy Noble recorded seven points (2+5) to earn the game’s First Star. It was an epic performance in Noble’s first game as he had just two fewer points than the record of nine set by Paul Gait in 1990.
“I’m just glad the team got the win, and it’s very important we start to string some wins here towards the end of the season,” said Noble.
John Grant Jr. also registered seven points (2+5) on the night and passed Shawn Williams for fourth all-time in assists in the process. Grant, Jr. now sits just one point away from Toronto’s Colin Doyle for second on the NLL all-time points list. The 15-year NLL veteran gave praise to Noble as well for his performance.
“Didn’t seem like a rookie at all, he seemed like a seasoned veteran,” Grant said. “We needed everything from him. We had some lapses, but we definitely played a little bit better.”
Gill was also impressed with the highly-coveted rookie’s first game.
“The kid played great…it’s his first weekend with the team and you can already tell he’s a leader. He’s not sitting back, he’s playing lacrosse like he should be, and the boys feed off of that.”
Minnesota meanwhile was highlighted by a four-point showing by Jordan MacIntosh (2+2), as well as Miles Thompson (2+1).
It didn’t take long for both teams to get on the scoreboard, with Minnesota’s Corbyn Tao and Colorado’s Adam Jones netting goals in the opening minute of play. Jones would score back-to-back for the Mammoth before Thompson and Shayne Jackson scored for the Swarm. Eli McLaughlin would tie the game 3-3 moments after the goal by Jackson.
The second stanza was all Colorado; the home team scored four times while blanking the Swarm offense, the first time the Mammoth have not allowed a point in a quarter all season. The Mammoth’s ‘Big 3’ (Grant, Jones, Westervelt) each knotted a goal in the quarter, as well as Noble, who scored his first career NLL goal on a delayed penalty, sending the home team into the locker room up 7-3 at halftime.
Noble tallied his second of the evening on a power play goal, where his twin brother, Jason, was assessed an illegal crosscheck. Thompson responded by snapping
Minnesota’s scoring drought, the team’s first goal in nearly 30 minutes of game time. MacIntosh and Andrew Suitor also contributed to cut the deficit to two before Grant capitalized on the power play.
Minnesota’s Tao was assessed a five minute major for illegal cross check late in the third quarter, setting up two power play goals for the Mammoth stretching into the fourth quarter. Colorado’s defense kept Minnesota to a lone score in the fourth, helping send the home team to victory, and handing the Swarm its second loss in as many nights after coming up short 10-9 to New England at home on Saturday.
Despite the win, Grant mentioned the team still had its fair share of hiccups, but was arguably the best performance of the team so far in 2015.
“We still didn’t [play a full 60 minutes], there’s just something about the third quarter in this building. We struggle, but what can I say, it helps when you get the victory.”
It is not often twin brother meet on opposing sides, nor is playing your brother in your first professional game. That’s what Jeremy faced tonight, just over 48 hours after being traded to the Mile High City, where twin Jason was waiting on defense. At the end of the day, he’s just another lacrosse player according to Jeremy.
“It’s a little bit surprising, but when you get on the floor he’s just another player, he’s got a job to do and I’ve got a job to do out there,” Noble said.
Dillon Ward picked up his fifth win of the year in net, stopping 41 of 49. Zach Higgins played opposite of Ward, finishing the night with 40 saves for the Swarm.
The Mammoth wrapped up its four-game tour of the East Division versus the Swarm, and will head to Vancouver next weekend for the first game in a home-and-home series against the Stealth. Minnesota meanwhile will continue its hree-game road trip when they take on New England next weekend.
Three Stars of the Game as selected by the media:
1) Jeremy Noble
2) Dillon Ward
3) Adam Jones
By Nick Salen (@MammothBeat) for NLL.com. Photo by Jack Dempsey.