Curtis Dickson saved the day by scoring two late goals and the overtime winner as the Calgary Roughnecks (7-5) overcame a slow start to beat the Colorado Mammoth (4-8) with a 12-11 comeback home win at Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday night.
“Dickson beat us to the net and you can’t leave him in front of the net," Mammoth head coach Bob Hamley told the team's website. "It’s as simple as that."
Roughnecks forward Dane Dobbie opened the scoring 2:50 into the game before the Mammoth responded with two goals midway through the first quarter for a 2-1 lead after the first 15 minutes of play.
“There was a little bit of rust early, we struggled getting shots," Roughnecks assistant coach Bruce Codd. "But we stuck with the game plan and showed a lot of character in getting the win.”
Colorado made it a four-goal scoring run with two goals by John Grant, Jr. in the first 3:05 of the second quarter to go up 4-1. After Calgary stopped the run 23 seconds later, the Mammoth ran off three-straight goals and took a 7-3 lead into halftime as both teams converted on the power play early and often.
"I felt good. Four power play goals, a breakaway, Grant, Jr. shooting...I’m not going to beat myself up about that," said Roughnecks goalie Mike Poulin. "I carried that confidence in, so at half down 7-3, I still felt really good.”
Calgary scored three goals in the first 5:34 of the third quarter to pull within 8-6 and trailed 9-7 entering the fourth quarter. After Sean Pollock put Colorado ahead 10-8 at the 5:22 mark of the final frame, the Roughnecks mounted their comeback.
Jeff Shattler scored midway through the quarter to pull within 10-9 before Dickson tied it with 2:25 left. 30 seconds later, Dickson gave the Roughnecks their first lead of the game with the go-ahead goal. With the goalie pulled, Pollock, who scored the overtime winner for the Mammoth in their first meeting with the Roughnecks this season, tied the game at 11-11 with 38 seconds left in regulation to force overtime.
Dickson scored his fourth of the night with the game-winning goal just 21 seconds into the sudden-death extra frame.
“After taking a stupid penalty at the end, the defense bailed me out big time," Dickson said. "I owed it to them to put a couple in the back of the net."
Shawn Evans, currently the NLL's leading scorer, posted a game-high 10 points (3+7), Dobbie had six points (2+4), and Dickson added five points (4+1) while Geoff Snider had a game-high 22 loose balls and went an impressive 24-for-27 (89%) on faceoffs.
Poulin made 32 saves on 43 shots, including an incredible stick save on a wraparound rebound attempt by Adam Jones early in the game.
Tye Belanger made 38 stops on 49 shots, with a crucial save on Dickson in the final moments of regulation while Dan Lewis made one save on two shots in middle relief.
Jordan McBride led the way for Colorado with a team-high seven points (2+5), Grant, Jr. had six points (3+3), Pollock (3+1) and Casey Powell (0+4) each had four points, and Cameron Holding collected a team-high 11 loose balls in the losing effort.
Both teams were proficient on the power play with the Roughnecks going 5-for-7 while the Mammoth went 5-for-6 with the man advantage.
Saturday night’s game featured the three most-recent NLL MVPs in Grant, Jr. (2012), Shattler (2011) and Powell (2010).
With the win, Roughnecks clinched a playoff berth and will now focus their efforts on earning home field advantage with hopes for a deep postseason run.
“First place is up for grabs, we need to keep playing our game and keep winning," Dickson said. "It's going to be a fun one going down the stretch.”
NLL.com's Roughnecks beat writer Jessica Elverum contributed to this report.