The Calgary Roughnecks (1-2) earned their first win of the season and avenged last week’s overtime loss with a convincing 19-12 win over the Colorado Mammoth (1-2) on the road on Friday night at Pepsi Center.
Shawn Evans stole the show for Calgary, leading the offense by recording 13 points (4+9), the most by any NLL player this season and a new franchise record previously set by teammate Dane Dobbie in 2009.
“We needed a win,” Evans said. “We started off a little slow, but we didn’t give up and we kept fighting. Biggest thing is we came back together, and we had a great game and got a win on the board for us.”
The win avenges a home loss last week for Calgary, returning the favor in Denver and matching the West Division rivals’ overall records for the time being.
“They were much better tonight, and we were much worse,” said Mammoth head coach Bob Hamley. “A tale of two tapes, but full credit to Calgary, they took it right to us. They shot the ball well and their offense played very well tonight and we weren’t ready, it showed on the score.”
Colorado’s captain Gavin Prout led all Mammoth players with seven points (2+5), while John Grant Jr. (3+5) and Adam Jones (2+3) also contributed offensively in the team’s second loss at home.
“We came out hot, and then we took a nap the rest of the game,” Prout said. “We took some stupid penalties and gave them too many opportunities on the power play. Gave them too many opportunities after that, and when the snowball starts rolling, it’s tough to stop.”
The “Riggers” began flat out of the gate, literally, as the team was late in taking the field during introductions, resulting in a delay of game penalty at the opening faceoff. Sean Pollock opened the scoring on the ensuing power play goal in the opening minute. The Mammoth pushed out to their only lead of the game before Evans led a Roughnecks charge, recording a hat trick in the opening frame.
The Roughnecks tallied six unanswered goals to wrap up the first quarter. An early goal by Prout in the second cut into Calgary’s lead, but the opposition would keep pace, holding onto a five point lead at the half. Both teams appeared matched in the second half; but the visitors stepped up the pressure in the fourth quarter, pocketing three in the opening 90 seconds, securing any chance the Mammoth had in making another comeback.
“Our guys were focused,” said Roughnecks head coach Curt Malawsky. “It started right after they handed it to us in our rink. We prepared real well…we talked about discipline; we had some challenges of adversity right out of the gate. But our guys never quit.”
Evans’ execution on offense could only be rivaled on the back end by Mike Poulin in net. Poulin recorded 38 saves on 50 shots on a night that was similar to last weekend.
The pair earned Malawsky’s endorsement after the game.
“Poulin has been the backbone and Evans has been the backbone up front,” he said.
Colorado’s netminder duo of Chris Levis and Matt Roik continued to struggle while Poulin played the majority of the game. Roik was given the initial start of the game before being relieved by Levis, who was later shuffled for Roik again. Combined, the two made 62 percent of the total shots faced.
But the struggles for Colorado continued in all areas on the floor. As anyone in the National Lacrosse League understands, digging an early hole early can prove costly down the stretch. Hamley noted that changes for the team may be on the horizon.
“We are going to look at the film real hard,” Hamley said. “We have a roster of 23; we are going to give some other people maybe a different look. I don’t know, but we have got to be better. We will review their film and surmise from there.”
Still seeking their first win at home, Colorado will look to re-focus before next week’s tilt at Pepsi Center on Saturday, Feb. 2 against the Minnesota Swarm.
With the win, Calgary now looks to complete a weekend sweep as they travel to Philadelphia to play the Wings on Sunday at 4 p.m. ET. The team was swift to begin recuperation, according to Malawsky.
“Philly is one of the most athletic teams in the league,” he said.”It’s always a tough place to play. I know our guys are resting, going to get lots of food in them, and we’re looking to get another two points on the back end of this trip.”