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Flight on the road: Knighthawks swoop past Mammoth, 11-9

03/01/2014, 11:45pm EST
By Mammoth beat writer Nick Salen for NLL.com

Keogh's five first-half goals helps Rochester hold on against Colorado

The Rochester Knighthawks (6-3) downed the Colorado Mammoth (4-7) with an 11-9 road win before a crowd of 15,212 at Pepsi Center in Denver on Saturday night.

A late Mammoth rally fell short thanks in part to Rochester’s penalty killing unit late in the game. Colorado meanwhile drops their second game in a row at home as they played the entire contest playing catch up from the opening minutes, much like their Week 8 loss in Denver.

“We got behind early,” said Mammoth head coach Bob Hamley. “Credit to our guys, they battled back, they didn’t quit and I’m proud of that. But a bad start really climbed and climbed, I thought we got really close there [at the end], but wasn’t meant to be.”

Colorado netted seven goals to Rochester’s four in the second half.

Stephen Keogh led all runners in points (5+1), with all five scores coming in the first half. Teammate Dan Dawson trailed just behind with five points (1+4).

“We were shooting the ball well in the first half, but in the second half we were a little sloppy,” Keogh commented. “It was an ugly win, but a good win for us…hopefully next game we play a full 60 minutes. I don’t think we’ve done that all season.”

Rochester took the lead just 22 seconds into the game courtesy of Keogh, who picked up a hat trick in the opening frame alongside Paul Dawson’s first goal of the season. Colorado had two scores wiped away on crease violations in the quarter, but still put one on the board despite being outshot 11-4 in the first fifteen minutes.

Keogh added two more goals in the second to add to the Knighthawks 7-2 halftime lead. The Mammoth meanwhile continued to be assessed crease violations, and in the process were kept scoreless for over 28 minutes of game time until the final 9 seconds of the second quarter, when Colton Clark ended the drought off a long pass on transition from Dillon Ward.

The Mammoth crease woes carried into the second half, having several scoring chances wiped away while attempting a last ditch effort. Colorado netted four in the final quarter, but with a power play chance with less than two minutes remaining, failed to capitalize as the Knighthawk defense stood solid until the final horn.

“I thought we had a good second half,” Drew Westervelt admitted. “We struggled early again, so we have to figure that out, to come out with a bit more intensity off the bat…we've got to stop playing from behind.”

Westervelt highlighted the Mammoth offense once again, finishing the night with four points (3+1) alongside John Grant Jr. (1+3) and Casey Powell (2+3).

Knighthawks head coach Mike Hasen meanwhile credited the defense for coming up big when the team needed it most, especially in the game’s late man-down situation against a home team that was riding a momentum swing.

“They kept coming in the second half,” he chimed. “A couple power play goals to close that gap. They never stopped, put us on our heels a little bit, but Matt [Vinc] made a couple saves at the end. It was good to see.”

Vinc picked up the win in net for Rochester recording 35 saves on 42 shots. Ward played opposite, playing the whole game stopping 31 of 42 for the Mammoth.

The contest marked the Mammoth's 100th all-time home game at the "loudest house in lacrosse" in Denver.

Colorado will wrap up a three-game homestead next Saturday as they host the Calgary Roughnecks in their final regular season meeting. Rochester meanwhile will travel home to host the Philadelphia Wings.

Three Stars of the Game as selected by the media:

1) Stephen Keogh
2) Drew Westervelt
3) Paul Dawson

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