The San Diego Seals picked up a hard-fought win on Saturday night.
They never pulled away from the pesky Colorado Mammoth, but they did enough to stave off Colorado’s comeback bid. They got big games from Dane Dobbie and Austin Staats to help them to the win. The win capped a four-game homestand in which they went 3-1. Their 9-2 record is good enough for a comfortable cushion atop the Western Conference.
The Seals started fast, jumping into the lead after rookie Mac O’Keefe fired them ahead from close range. O’Keefe found himself wide open after Austin Staats drew a double team but passed out of it well. Colorado responded a few minutes later, as Zed Williams tied the game, but the game did not stay tied for long. Wesley Berg scored to put the Seals ahead before Henry Hickey scored on his San Diego debut. The goals came on back-to-back possessions, and both were created by Dane Dobbie and Zack Greer’s passing.
The Mammoth put themselves a man down thanks to Eli McLaughlin’s crosscheck in the final seconds of the first quarter.
Thanks to superstar Austin Staats, the Seals took advantage early in the second period, as he gave the Seals a three-goal advantage. However, the Seals gave momentum back to Colorado after Eli Gobrecht’s illegal crosscheck, and the Mammoth scored just 14 seconds later. Connor Robinson, who scored on the power play for the Mammoth, added another goal on the very next possession.
Colorado had been getting dominated for most of the early stages of the game, but Robinson’s quick double strike put them just a goal behind. Seals assists leader Jeremy Noble put an end to the Colorado run with a wonderful cross-field pass to Dane Dobbie to double the Seals’ advantage. Colorado cut the deficit back to one on a critical counterattack, as they took advantage of a two on one. With just 1.3 seconds left in the first half, Noble struck again, this time scoring from an impossibly tight angle. 97.3’s Ben and Woods host and PA Announcer Steven Woods yelled, “Are you kidding me?” as Noble celebrated his goal.
Both teams came into the second half firing, as each hit the post in the opening minutes. The Seals then found themselves on the advantage after a too many men penalty against the Mammoth, but Colorado killed it. Colorado scored on a fluky goal, as Joey Cupido beat Seals goalie Frank Scigliano to chasing down a loose ball before firing it into the open net. Zack Greer and Staats combined for a lovely screen-play to set up Greer, who returned the Seals to their multi-goal advantage. Staats did pick up a penalty for holding the stick of a Colorado player, but the Seals killed the penalty. The Mammoth did find their way back within one at the closing stages of the third quarter, as Zed Williams scored his second of the night.
The fourth quarter started with staunch defensive performances from both goalies, but Colorado struck first. Ryan Lee, who finished with four points on the night, tied the game at seven, pulling Colorado level for the first time since the first quarter. Erik Turner picked up a penalty for the Mammoth, leading to a crucial power play for the Seals. Staats finished up a four-point night with a go-ahead goal on the power play. Just moments later, the Mammoth’s Jalen Chaster got into it with the Seals’ Tyson Bomberry. Both players were charged with roughing as the referees intervened, but Chaster was also penalized for slashing, giving the Seals the advantage.
While the Seals were on the power play, Colorado had a huge chance on a breakaway, but Scigliano came up clutch to keep the Seals ahead. The Mammoth piled on the pressure, but the Seals managed to hold. Wesley Berg put the game on ice with an empty-net goal, giving the Seals a critical 9-7 win.
The win put the Seals two and a half games ahead of the Mammoth in the Western Conference, a critical advantage to have as the Seals head on the road for their next two games.