The Colorado Mammoth will have to wait another year to beat the Calgary Roughnecks in an NLL playoff match as the home team lost to their bitter rivals 15-12 in heartbreaking fashion to extend their playoff losing streak against the Roughnecks to eight games.
For nearly the first 30 minutes of Saturday night’s heavyweight duel, the Mammoth put themselves right where they needed to be to have the upper hand versus the visitors.
Following a Dane Dobbie goal on Calgary’s 2nd shot of the game, the Mammoth strung together six goals in a row to pull ahead 6-1 with ten minutes remaining in the first half. The five-goal lead for the Mammoth was the largest for the team in any playoff game versus the Roughnecks in the team’s history.
The Mammoth first-half offense was led by forward Ryan Benesch who had a goal and two assists. Remarkably, all seven Mammoth goals in the first half were scored by different players. Two of those scores were unassisted, and one of them was a shorthanded tally.
On the other side of the ball, the Mammoth defense was almost impenetrable. Dillon Ward stopped 18 of the 21 shots he faced, the man-down unit stopped both Roughnecks power play opportunities, and the team surrendered a mere three goals.
It would have been fewer goals allowed, but the Roughnecks scored two of the final three goals of the half including Dobbie’s second goal of the game with only 31 seconds remaining in the second quarter to begin shifting the momentum in the Roughnecks favor.
From the getgo of the second half, it was clear that the Roughnecks were playing at a quicker tempo, with more energy, and with more physicality. That play turned the game on its head. The Roughnecks rushed out of the gate and scored the first three goals of the second half within the first six minutes of third quarter, one of which was Dobbie’s third score of the contest.
Dobbie’s goal also completed the Roughnecks comeback tying the match at 8-8. It was the first time that the away team was level with the Mammoth since the score was 1-1 with less than three minutes elapsed from the game.
Mammoth goals from Zack Greer and Benesch kept the Mammoth at arm’s length, and by the end of the third quarter, the match was knotted at 9-9 with 15 minutes to decide who would move on to face the Saskatchewan Rush in the West Division Finals.
The Roughnecks continued to have answers for the Mammoth defense in the fourth quarter. Curtis Dickson started the scoring in the final frame with his second goal of the night to give the Roughnecks the lead once more.
Suddenly, though, it seemed that the first half Mammoth were back on the turf. Goals from Jeremy Noble and another from Greer gave the home team the lead again with ten minutes left in the match. It would be the last time on Saturday night that the Mammoth would be ahead.
The Roughnecks scored five of the last six goals in the game. Two came from Dickson to give him a hat-trick in the fourth quarter, and two came off the stick of Dobbie who completed his six-goal night – Dobbie had a total of nine points by the final buzzer.
The Mammoth have now lost nine of ten playoff matches versus the Roughnecks. Now, for the 5th time in six years, the Mammoth will head into an early offseason trying to figure out why the cannot beat the Roughnecks in the NLL Playoffs.