John Grant Jr. defended by Sid Smith. Photo Credit: Michael Martin
John Grant Jr. gave his former team a glimpse of what he’s still capable of doing on the field.
Grant had three goals and four assists and the Colorado Mammoth remained the NLL’s lone unbeaten team with a 14-11 win over the Rochester Knighthawks on Saturday night before 15,210 at the Pepsi Center.
From 2000-10, Grant recorded 480 goals and 496 assists with Rochester, helping the club win the 2007 NLL title. Since joining Colorado in an October 2010 trade, the 37-year-old has 55 goals and 69 assists in 21 games.
“It was great to get a win against those guys tonight,” said Grant, who leads the NLL with 37 points (16 goals, 21 assists) this season. “I tip my hat to those guys. That’s a tough game they had (Friday) night and to travel today.
"Those guys came in flying in the third when they probably should have been starting to drag their behinds.”
Besides Grant, the Mammoth (4-0) were led on offense by Sean Pollock (three goals, two assists) and rookie Jamie Lincoln (three goals, one assist).
Mike Accursi had three goals and three assists, and Cody Jamieson and Stephen Keogh each added two goals and three assists for Rochester (1-3).
Rochester came into Denver after having traveled early Saturday following a 13-11 loss in Toronto the previous night. Assistant coach Paul Day said the team played well, especially in the second half, in spite of the quick turnaround.
“I think on a tough back-to-back coming from Toronto early this morning, other than about five minutes in the first quarter, we were a bit flat,” he said. “I think we had a better game tonight than we did against Toronto.
“Obviously coming up short is not what were looking for, but we’re a bit more of a younger team and we learned a lot this week about consistency and what it takes to win in the NLL.”
Pollock gave a Colorado a 1-0 lead in the opening minute, and the Mammoth would eventually take a 9-4 lead into the halftime break. Rochester outscored Colorado 5-2 in the third quarter but still trailed 11-9.
Jamieson’s second goal of the game with 9:03 to play in the contest drew the Knighthawks within one. However, Pollock answered with a power-play goal and Creighton Reid closed the scoring.
“We came out flying in the first half. I thought we did well, played well in the first half. Second half we got stuck in quicksand a little and slowed things down to their pace,” Mammoth head coach Bob Hamley said.
Though the Mammoth got goals from eight different players, Day said No. 24 is a big reason why the team is undefeated.
“They’re a very, very talented group up there. Very unselfish and that’s why they’re 4-0 this year and Johnny is a big part of that,” he said. “I think what people don’t know is that he’s probably as smart a passer as anybody in the league that’s ever played.
“He had some great looks tonight. You keep him to three (goals), that’s all you can ask for.”
Rochester’s Matt Vinc – who was involved in the trade for Grant – was pulled early in the second quarter after allowing eight goals on 16 shots. Jake Henhawk took his place between the pipes, turning away four out of five shots before Vinc came back in the second half.
Vinc finished with 20 saves on 33 shots.
Chris Levis, meanwhile, played all 60 minutes for the Mammoth and stopped 44 of 55 shots.
The Mammoth also introduced their All-Decade team Saturday, headlined by NLL legend Gary Gait.
“It’s great just to be a part of this,” Gait said. “Being involved, moving the team to Colorado and seeing it take off and playing and coaching. Just to come back and see the guys that have helped build this franchise is an amazing experience.”
The Mammoth look to extend their winning streak Saturday night when they play host to the Edmonton Rush. Colorado defeated the Rush 13-12 on Jan. 20 on a late goal by Grant.
“Lesson learned from that game,” Hamley said. “Fortunately, we were on the right side of the ledger, but still lots of good film we can learn from. We got to get better, everybody else is going to get better as the season goes on and we have to continue that as well.”
The Knighthawks, meanwhile, look to snap a three-game skid Saturday when they return home to face the Minnesota Swarm.
Both games can be seen on the NLL Network at NLL.com.