The Colorado Mammoth (5-7) topped the Calgary Roughnecks (6-4) with a dramatic 10-9 overtime victory on Saturday night in Denver. Sean Pollock, who was playing for his wife, a cancer survivor, on 'Lacrosse Out Cancer' night at Pepsi Center, scored the game-winning goal 3:05 into the extra period.
“If you want to write a script, that’d be a good one to have,” Pollock said.
“I honestly didn’t think I was going to play today,” said Pollock who suffered an injury in practice last night. “Obviously this is my favorite game of the year, and I wanted to play. Once I got to the arena and got moving a little bit, that pain went away.”
Dillon Ward finished the game with 35 saves while not allowing a goal for over 30 minutes of game time.
“I got to credit my defense, they were incredible in front of me,” Ward said. “We had a bit of a slow start giving up five goals in the first half, but we shortened up on our mistakes, we took away the inside from them and it seemed to frustrate them. “
The teams went back and forth in a scoreless affair in the opening minutes until Jeff Shattler went back-to-back for Calgary. His second score ignited a late flurry for the Roughnecks in the first quarter, netting three in a span of 2:06. Joel Dalgarno would put the Mammoth on the board for the first time early in quarter two, sparking a scoring run to tie the game 5-5 going into the half.
Athan Iannucci would tally the lone goal in the third to give Colorado its first lead of the game. In the fourth, the Mammoth added three unanswered scores before the Roughnecks rallied to tie the game in the final five minutes. The first goal in that run came from Shattler with just under six minutes left, the first for the ‘Riggers’ since the opening minute of the second quarter.
With Mike Poulin pulled, Daryl Veltman netted the tying goal with under a minute remaining in regulation. The teams exchanged possessions in the extra period until Pollock unloaded a shot from the top of the box to the near side post, lifting the Mammoth from a near last-minute collapse.
“We just wanted to stick to our game,” Ward added. “We knew they were coming on a run; they were frustrated, coming to us pretty hard towards the end of the game…we just wanted to settle down, bear down and play our defense. And you could see in overtime we didn’t give up a shot I don’t think. We just really beared down and gave our offense the opportunity to put that one away.”
Pat Coyle, one of Colorado’s three interim coaches, also gave praise to the young net minder and the defense, as well as the rest of the squad for persevering until the final horn.
“It feels good,” he commented. “It would have been nicer if we didn’t have to do it that way, but it feels awesome, really awesome.”
Calgary found themselves in eight separate man-down situations compared to none for Colorado. Roughnecks head coach Curt Malawsky mentioned that it’s easy to give up a massive run like the team did when in the box that often, but at the same time praised his team for staying calm and not complaining.
“I’ve never seen that before, I’ve been around the game for 40 years and I’ve never seen a team, not once, get a penalty,” Malawsky said. “It’s usually close, each team gets three or four. But 8-0 and then a five-minute [major] with ten minutes left in the game, I don’t know. I’m not sure if that was fair, I’m sticking up for my guys, that’s my own personal thought.”
Pollock (3+0), Drew Westervelt (2+2) and Casey Powell (2+2) led on offense for Colorado.
Shattler (4+0) highlighted the Roughneck offense alongside Veltman (2+1) and Shawn Evans (0+6). Poulin, who played opposite of Ward, finished the night with 44 saves.
With a win in hand, Colorado will head to Buffalo next weekend for a tilt with the East Division leading Bandits on Saturday night. Calgary meanwhile will head home to host the undefeated Edmonton Rush in an anticipated showdown of Alberta.
Three Stars of the Game as selected by the media:
1) Dillon Ward
2) Sean Pollock
3) Jeff Shattler