It was an imperfect ending to a perfect night for the Calgary Roughnecks.
On an evening where the Roughnecks raised their 2018-19 NLL Champions banner to the rafters of the Scotiabank Saddledome, the Colorado Mammoth spoiled the party, defeating the home squad by an 8-7 margin in overtime in front of 12,072 fans Saturday night.
Despite the disappointing result, Roughnecks forward Dan Taylor said the pre-game ceremony was a moment he won’t forget.
“It was pretty amazing. To know that anytime I go to a Flames game or a Roughnecks game in the future, I can look up there and know that I’m part of it,” said Taylor.
“It’s special, but it’s over now, so we’re looking forward to the rest of the season.”
As has become ritual with these two clubs, it was a low-scoring, hard-hitting, defensive affair with both goaltenders playing lights out. Roughnecks goaltender Christian Del Bianco finished the night with 41 saves on 49 shots, while Mammoth backstop Dillon Ward stopped 46 of the 53 balls that came his way.
“They’re a defensive team; that’s how they play. They rely on their goaltender and jam it inside the dotted line. If you hit your shots, you’re going to beat them. If you don’t hit your shots, you’re not, and they’re going to run it down the other way,” said Roughnecks head coach Curt Malawsky.
“I thought full marks. Goalie-driven team, well done.”
Riding high on the emotions of the banner raising, the Roughnecks opened up a quick 2-0 lead less than five minutes into the contest off goals by Curtis Dickson and Tyler Pace.
The Mammoth would answer just over five minutes later to narrow the gap to 2-1 courtesy of Jacob Ruest. The Roughnecks would answer right back to open the second quarter off the stick of Dan Taylor.
The Mammoth offense would come to life, however, following the Roughnecks third goal, scoring four straight goals, two from Will Malcolm, one from Dylan Kinnear, and the other from Ruest, to take a 5-3 lead.
The Roughnecks would stop the bleeding before the break with Marshal King cutting the lead to 5-4 heading to the locker room.
Both defenses tightened up significantly in third quarter with the only goal coming from Eli Salama, knotting the score at 5-5 entering the final frame.
The Roughnecks and Mammoth would trade goals on two occasions in the fourth quarter, with Brett Craig and Kyle Killen finding the net for the Mammoth, and King and Taylor finishing for the home side with their second goals on the night.
King finished the night with three points (two goals, one assists) in just his second NLL game after being selected by the Roughnecks in the second round of the 2019 NLL draft.
Now up to six points (three goals, three assists) on the season, King said he feels comfortable on the floor as a rookie, and is showing why he earned a roster spot out of training camp.
“It just goes to show what our team is. With all the veterans we have on our team, they do such a good job making the young guys feel comfortable right away, and it just makes me feel like part of the family already,” said King.
In the overtime frame, the Roughnecks had a golden opportunity to seal the deal, when the Mammoth took back-to-back penalties to start the extra frame, affording the Roughnecks a short two-man advantage at one point.
The Mammoth, however, were successful in killing off both penalties thanks to multiple timely saves by Ward and a little help from the post.
After several minutes of back and forth action, Jordan Gillies was able to put the game to bed for the Mammoth on a breakaway goal.
On the offensive side of things, Malcolm, Ryan Lee, Chris Wardle, and Killen all led the way for the Mammoth with three points apiece, while Taylor’s four-point night (two goals, two assists) headed the Roughnecks offense.
The Roughnecks will now head to a short Christmas break, as they return to action Friday night in the first of back-to-back games next weekend.
After a road date with the San Diego Seals on Friday, the Roughnecks will head straight home to host the Philadelphia Wings the very next night.
While it’s going to be a busy week for the Roughnecks, Taylor said they know what they need to do, and it’s just a matter of executing.
“It starts, number one, with taking care of our bodies this week. Guys are going to be with their families and relaxing, so hopefully we’ll get some recovery,” said Taylor.
“The guys will come prepared. It’s part of this league; it’s part of our job. It’s old habit at this point. We know what we’re doing, and we’ll be ready to go.”
- Will Malcolm (COL)
- Kyle Killen (COL)
- Marshal King (CGY)