The Edmonton Rush have never been in a playoff game, but for all intents and purposes they played one last night in Denver.
With the final playoff spot in the National Lacrosse League West Division on the line, the Rush and Colorado Mammoth left it all on the floor in their regular-season finale at the Pepsi Center.
The Mammoth laid claim to the fourth and final playoff spot with a 10-9 win, with Edmonton native Jamie Shewchuk notching what proved to be the winning goal with 2:16 left in the fourth quarter.
Shewchuk's tally gave the Mammoth a two-goal lead, but Mike MacLeod scored with 33 seconds left to give the Rush one last gasp of hope.
"The last six games have been excellent," Edmonton head coach and GM Bob Hamley said afterwards. "We just can't finish a game. We've had leads in all of our last three away games and we just couldn't close it out."
Andy Secore led the way for the Rush with four goals and a pair of assists, while Dan Teat chipped in with five helpers. Jimmy Quinlan had two goals, while Callum Crawford and Mike Hominuck added the others.
Shewchuk, former Rush forward Chris Gill, Tyler Crompton and Gavin Prout each sniped a pair for the Mammoth while Brian Langtry and Gary Rosyski added singles.
"The guys are really frustrated and disappointed, but they gave it everything they had," Hamley said. "Just look at the stats: they had five power plays to our one. Having one power play in a 60-minute game is almost unheard of."
Crompton opened the scoring for the Mammoth, but Quinlan and Secore responded for the Rush to give Edmonton a one-goal lead after the first quarter.
Secore then scored a pair of goals early in the second to extend the Rush lead. However, Gill, Langtry and Crompton scored in succession to tie the game. Mike Hominuck and Gill then exchanged goals to knot the score 5-5.
Secore netted his fourth of the game to give the Rush the lead less than a minute into the third quarter, but that was the extent of Edmonton's offence in the period.
In the fourth, Prout tied the game, setting up a tense final 12 minutes.
"In the last half of the season, Andy has come along very nicely and he's a great player," Hamley said. "He had some good looks tonight and buried them. He's run our power play most of the season. He's the future of the Rush."
Quinlan scored the go-ahead goal on a great play from behind the net, jumping up and tucking a shot past goaltender Andrew Leyshon.
The lead did not last long as Shewchuk responded with a shot that found its way past Rush goaltender Chris Levis, who had an outstanding game, finishing with 41 saves.
Heading into last night, there was a possibility of three teams finishing with a 6-10 record. Had that occurred, the Rush would have been awarded the final playoff spot with a better head to head record between the teams.
However, the Mammoth win gives them the fourth spot outright and also eliminates the Minnesota Swarm from playoff contention.