The Colorado Mammoth (7-6, second in the West) defeated the Rochester Knighthawks (2-10, last in the North) Sunday night by a score of 10-8 despite a tough start. Colorado faced a deficit of 7-1 early in the second quarter but used a huge third quarter to take the lead and hold on to the victory. Rochester was coming off a back to back, coming in from San Diego the night prior where they lost 19-6. Mammoth goalie Dillon Ward was pulled in the first quarter for backup goalie Tyler Carlson who kept the Mammoth in the game by stopping 37 of 40 shots through the remainder of the game and take home first star of the evening.
The game started in what has been a commonality for the Mammoth this season by finding themselves down quickly in the first, giving up the first goal of the game to Rochester’s captain, Paul Dawson on the first shot of the game. A few minutes later, Mammoth forward Jacob Ruest got the Mammoth on the board in a transition opportunity when Scott Carnegie found him streaking out of the bench for a one on one situation with Knighthawks goalie Steve Fryer. On the next possession, Chris Wardle tried to give the Mammoth the lead with a diving attempt but hit off the crossbar. Immediately following, Holden Cattoni sniped a ball over Dillon Ward’s shoulders to give the Knighthawks a one goal lead again. Following the next faceoff which Rochester won, Turner Evans buried a shot low on Ward to give the Knighthawks an early 3-1 lead. Turner Evans followed up his first goal with a nifty behind the back shot to beat Ward and took a penalty with a high check from Mammoth defender Brett Craig. Rochester capitalized on the man-up advantage with a goal from Cory Highfield to give Rochester a 5-1 lead with over five minutes remaining in the first. Dillon Ward was subsequently replaced by backup, Tyler Carlson. A few moments later, Robert Hope was called for a holding penalty which led to Rochester getting another power play opportunity. Cory Highfield was once again the player to capitalize for the Knighthawks on the power play. Mammoth rookie Dylan Kinnear looked to continue his recent hot streak and score a goal. Kinnear beat Knighthawks goalie Steve Fryer, but Mike Hasen challenged the goal and won his appeal with Kinnear landing in the crease before the ball crossed the goal line. At the end of the first, Rochester had a commanding 6-1 lead, outshooting the Mammoth 17-8. Although Rochester played the night prior, their legs looked fresh and they looked out for revenge off their defeat the night prior.
The Mammoth almost got off to a perfect start in the second by taking the faceoff for a goal, even though Joey Cupido beat Fryer, his foot stepped on the crease line and it was called no goal. Rochester in transition played a little game of tic tac toe and on a one timer beat Carlson, a goal by Dylan Evans and assisted by Matt Bennett. Knighthawks defender Doug Utting was charged with an illegal check from behind on Tyler Digby which gave the Mammoth their first power play opportunity of the game. After a save from Fryer, Fryer got the ball to a defender who on the clear was intercepted by Chris Wardle who drove to the net to get the Mammoth’s second goal of the night, reigniting the Loud House. With an upcoming penalty coming to Rochester, the Mammoth capitalized with an extra attacker with a quick pass attack from McLaughlin to Wardle to Tyler Digby who scored his first of the night. After a couple of good looks for Colorado including a saved breakaway, there was a definite change in momentum as the Loud House started to get behind its team.
At the half, the score was 7-3 in favor of Rochester with Knighthawks captain, Paul Dawson sitting in the penalty box for an illegal check from behind on Warren Jeffrey. Shots were almost even, with Rochester leading 25-24. Since coming into the game, Tyler Carlson saved 11 of 13 shots. Steve Fryer making a homecoming of sorts, saved 21 of 24. Curtis Knight led the Knighthawks in scoring with five points (0g, 5a) and each Turner Evans and Cory Highfield had a pair of goals. For Colorado, Chris Wardle, Tyler Digby and Jacob Ruest each scored in the first half. Tim Edwards won seven of ten faceoff opportunities.
The Mammoth flipped the story to start the second half and got on the board on their first possession of the half with a goal by Tyler Digby who was on the doorstep to beat Fryer to make it a three-goal game. The tired legs seemed to catch up with the Knighthawks. Soon thereafter, Rochester was hit with an illegal substitution to give the Mammoth another power play opportunity. Colorado was unable to take advantage of this next opportunity to cut into Rochester’s lead. Tyler Digby almost got his hat trick when a shot rang off the post. Rochester on the other end got another one-time goal to restore their four-goal lead. A one timer goal from Turner Evans from Curtis Knight, to get this hat trick. On an alley-oop that would baffle even the biggest of NBA fans, Ryan Lee buried his first goal of the night on a lob from Tyler Digby. It was the lacrosse equivalent of Anthony Davis getting LeBron a streaking dunk opportunity off a lob. He followed up his more difficult performance with another diving goal soon thereafter, this time from Jacob Ruest, to beat Steve Fryer to make it a two-goal game. Right off the faceoff, Joey Cupido ran to the net uncontested and thought he scored his long-awaited goal after so many good looks. After a challenge though, his right foot was on the line to keep it a two-goal game, much to the chagrin of Mammoth fans. After an illegal crosscheck to Rochester’s Dan Michel, Mammoth made quick work of the power play with a one-time effort from Chris Wardle from Ryan Lee to make it a one goal game with just over four minutes remaining in the third quarter. Right after, Colorado ran the one timer play again, this time a cross field pass from Eli McLaughlin, got Ryan Lee his third on the night. Running in transition, the Mammoth got their first lead of the night. Brett Craig scooped up a loose ball and got it ahead to Tim Edwards who running a two on one with Jacob Ruest, passed it “the Rooster” who got his second goal of the night. At the end of the third, the Mammoth got their first lead of the night at 9-8, after outscoring Rochester six to one.
Going into the fourth, Colorado killed off two separate penalties immediately. Robert Hope had started the period in the box for a slash, soon after he was released, Brett Craig was called for a crosscheck. Rochester was almost able to tie it up on a breakaway opportunity but Tyler Carlson got a foot on the ball to keep it out of the net. On the other end, Eli McLaughlin got one on the board after being left open right on the crease. He dived across the crease to extend the Mammoth lead to two with six and a half minutes remaining in the game. Going into the under-five timeout, the game started to get very physical with both teams scrapping for every loose ball. Through the rest of the game, Rochester attempted to get a goal to bring the game closer but was unable to defeat Carlson even on multiple extra man situations by pulling their goalie. The Mammoth held on to win 10-8, with only one goal being scored in the fourth quarter total.
For Colorado, Ryan Lee led the team in scoring by securing a hat trick (3g, 1a). Chris Wardle led the team in total points at six (2g, 4a). After replacing Dillon Ward, Tyler Carlson saved 37 of 40 shots in over 50 minutes of game played and kept the Mammoth in the game. For Rochester, Curtis Knight led all the scoring with six points (0g, 6a), Turner Evans led the goals produced with three (3g, 0a), Steve Fryer, making his first start in Denver since being acquired in the expansion draft, got his first loss in Denver by allowing 10 goals on 44 shots, including an impressive second quarter with 14 saves. The three stars of the night in order from third to first were Rochester’s Curtis Knight, Colorado’s Chris Wardle, and Tyler Carlson.
The Colorado Mammoth (7-6) will enjoy a bye week next week before returning home for their final game in their four-game home stand versus West Division rival, Calgary Roughnecks to potentially decide the season series. Colorado won the first matchup, 8-7 in December. Rochester (2-10) will return home next week to take on North Division rival, Halifax Thunderbirds for two straight versus the Thunderbirds with a bye week between for both teams. All games through the 2019-20 NLL season can be streamed via Bleacher Report Live.