The Calgary Roughnecks ended the Colorado Mammoth's perfect season with a 21-10 blowout on Friday in Denver. (Photo Credit: Michael Martin)
The Calgary Roughnecks made a statement Friday night. An emphatic one that also tightened things up in the West Division.
Playing at the Pepsi Center, the Roughnecks dealt the Colorado Mammoth their first loss of the season 21-10.
“We showed tonight that we have the ability to play against the top teams in the league and compete hard,” Calgary coach Dave Pym said. “It was a great night for us and an off night for them. I think we deserve a lot of credit for putting them in that situation.”
With the win, the Roughnecks trail the Mammoth by one-half game in the West.
It wasn’t so much that Colorado lost for the first time in seven games this year, but how the game unfolded. The Mammoth trailed 5-0 at the end of one quarter and 11-1 at halftime.
“They wanted it a little more than we wanted it today,” Colorado captain Gavin Prout said. “There are no excuses. You can’t score one goal in a half - and on transition - and win a game. That is not the way this league works and we had to be better offensively.”
After being held off the scoresheet in the opening half, John Grant Jr. totaled four goals and three assists over the final 30 minutes. Grant continues to lead the NLL with 27 goals and 59 points.
While Pym was gratified to leave Denver with a win, he told Ian Busby of the Calgary Sun that the team still had issues to work on, namely playing with intensity for a full 60 minutes.
“We let in too many goals in the second half,” Pym said. “We were letting up a bit and I don’t like to see that. We want to put the hammer down and step on throats. I’m not willing to take the foot off the gas.”
Read Busby’s game story here.
Calgary will welcome the new-look Minnesota Swarm to the Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday night.
The Mammoth, meanwhile, will try to bounce back Saturday night at Buffalo in a homecoming of sorts for Colorado rookies Adam Jones and Dan Coates. Jones and Coates were selected third and eighth, respectively, in the 2011 NLL Entry Draft after having played their college lacrosse at Canisius.
Another week, another game – and another key injury for the Toronto Rock.
The Rock lost captain Colin Doyle for the second time this season in Saturday’s 16-12 win over Rochester. Doyle crumpled to the turf early in the second quarter following a collision in front of Knighthawks goaltender Matt Vinc and was diagnosed with an upper-body injury.
With Doyle out, the Rock got five goals from Kasey Beirnes and four from Stephan Leblanc.
“When a guy like Colin goes down, the team needs some secondary scoring from guys like myself if we're going to win the game,” Beirnes told Neil Stevens of The Canadian Press. Read Stevens’ recap in The Globe and Mail here.
Doyle had tied Steve Toll’s NLL-record ironman streak of 188 straight games before suffering a lower-body injury Jan. 27 against Rochester. If Doyle cannot go this weekend, he rejoins a long injured list headlined by forward Blaine Manning (broken collarbone) and defenseman Rob Marshall (broken foot).
The Rock’s next game will be Saturday night at the Air Canada Centre against Washington in a rematch of the last two NLL title games. Toronto earned its first Champion’s Cup since 2005 with an 8-7 victory in goaltender Bob Watson’s final game.
Watson became the first player in franchise history to have his number retired Friday.
Rochester welcomed back five players from what turned out to be a one-game suspension for an off-field incident, but lost its fourth straight road game.
“We took a big step backward, we got outworked right from the get-go and that’s not acceptable,” said head coach Mike Hasen.
Leading scorer Cody Jamieson, who was one of the suspended players, had two goals and four assists in his return. Vinc, who hasn’t missed a game all season, made 44 stops on 59 shots.
Behind Jamieson (20 goals), longtime veteran Mike Accursi and rookie Johnny Powless (14 goals each), Rochester is the league’s highest-scoring team with 102 goals. However, the Knighthawks have given up a league-worst 102 goals.
Hasen’s club returns to action Saturday night at the site of their only road win of 2012 when they travel to Philadelphia. Rochester opened the season Jan. 14 with a 22-12 rout of the Wings at the Wells Fargo Center.
The Joe Sullivan era in Minnesota got off to a flying start as the Swarm opened a four-game road trip with Friday’s 15-7 win over Washington.
Sullivan, the Swarm’s associate general manager, was named head coach Wednesday after the team dismissed Mike Lines. Sullivan told Jace Frederick of NLL.com that he loves Minnesota’s blue-collar approach to the game, but that there is a plan moving forward.
“We’re going in treating ourselves as the underdogs each and every game,” Sullivan said. “I think to do that you have to absolutely respect your opponent each and every night.”
After trading away the rights to Anthony Cosmo earlier and releasing Nick Patterson earlier this month, the Swarm are going with rookie goaltenders Tyler Carlson and Evan Kirk. Kirk had another solid outing Friday, keeping Washington off the scoreboard in the second quarter and allowing one goal in the fourth.
The sixth overall pick in the 2011 NLL Entry Draft has a 6.50 goals-against average and .873 save percentage through two games.
“He’s playing like a veteran,” Sullivan said. “He’s a young guy who is confident because the young guys around him are confident in him.”
Washington welcomed back Chris Hall behind the bench for the first time this season after he completed treatment for throat cancer. Hall has led the Stealth to two straight West Division titles and the 2010 NLL title, but this season’s club has had trouble finding the back of the net.
The 1-6 Stealth are averaging a league-low 9.3 goals per game, but Hall told Aaron Lommers of the Everett (Wash.) Herald that the problem goes much deeper.
"We are literally not playing intelligent lacrosse and we are literally beating up on ourselves. So things have to change,” Hall said. Click here to read Lommers’ report.
One change the Stealth made earlier this month was acquiring Athan Iannucci from Edmonton for Paul Rabil. Iannucci, the league’s single-season goal-scoring leader (71 in 2008), has just two with four assists through two games with his new club.
In Edmonton, the Rush returned home from a four-game road trip and surprised Philadelphia with a 12-10 win on Friday.
Derek Suddons helped the Rush end a three-game skid with his first two-goal game since 2008. His second goal stood as the game-winner.
“You enjoy it when those games happen, right?” Suddons told Gerry Moddejonge of the Edmonton Sun. “You have fun with it (and) enjoy it for the night that it is.”
Read Moddejonge’s recap of the game here.
The Rush will have plenty of time to rest before a crucial home-and-home series with the Roughnecks. The Battle of Alberta will resume March 9 in Calgary and shift to Edmonton the following night.
Friday’s loss dropped the Wings into a first-place tie with Toronto in the East Division.
Brodie Merrill, playing his first game back at Rexall Place after being dealt to Philadelphia in the offseason, indicated that the Wings may have been a little flat during their rare visit to Edmonton.
“I thought the Rush played with a little more urgency, and were obviously hungry to get a win tonight. We didn’t respond,” said Merrill, who scored 3:02 into the game and finished with two goals and an assist.
The Buffalo Bandits were idle as the First Niagara Center was the site of the All-Star game. With his team mired in a four-game skid while off for nearly two weeks, Bandits forward Luke Wiles told Budd Bailey of the Buffalo News that he'd like to be back out on the field and not mulling over the club's 2-4 record.
"That's the worst part about it - you have so much time to think of it," said Wiles, whose team will next face Colorado this Saturday. "You'd rather get out there the next night and be able to whack someone with your stick because you're mad."
Read Bailey's write-up here.
The weekend's action was capped off Saturday when the West ended a four-game losing streak in All-Star play by rallying for a 20-18 win over the East. The Roughnecks' Geoff Snider took home his second All-Star game Most Valuable Player award after scoring four goals.