The top teams in the East and West Divisions squared off Saturday night in Denver, with the Colorado Mammoth (8-2) edging the New England Black Wolves (5-3) by a final of 14-13 in front of 15,009 fans in attendance at Pepsi Center.
Colorado remains undefeated at home this season, picking up their fifth win in Denver, and a 2.5 game lead in the West Division.
“It was good to get started early,” Callum Crawford said. “We didn’t wait until the second half or fourth quarter for the first time in a few games.”
“Not to make excuses, but the week off and the afternoon game, we just didn’t respond and we came out flat,” said Mammoth coach Pat Coyle when comparing tonight’s win versus recent outings. “It seemed like we came in better prepared tonight. “
After an inconceivable record-breaking fourth quarter performance last week, it didn’t take long for Adam Jones to etch his name into the NLL record books again. The opening goal by Jones at 11:17 marked his 56th consecutive game played with a score, which began in 2012. He surpassed teammate John Grant Jr.’s 55 game streak set from 2006-2011.
Jones highlighted the Mammoth offense once again with eight points (7+1), and his second “sock trick” in as many games. His seven goals also ties a career high for the team’s leading scorer.
“Jonesy did what Jonesy does again,” Crawford added. “It’s motivating when you’ve got a guy to put it in the net like that. It gets the energy going, the momentum, and we were able to play a good offensive game tonight.”
Crawford led the Mammoth in points (2+8), with John Grant Jr. and Jeremy Noble just behind (2+4).
The Black Wolves were highlighted by Jordan Hall (3+2), Kevin Buchanan (3+1), and Shawn Evans (2+4).
Colorado pulled out to an early advantage in the opening stanza with four goals in a five-minute span, three from Jones and another from Grant. New England got on the board late in the quarter with the first of back-to-back scores from Hall.
Momentum shifted towards the Black Wolves in the second, with six goals to two by the Mammoth, to take the lead for the first time in the game 7-6 at halftime. Jeremy Noble responded for Colorado in the opening minute of the second half to tie the game 7-7. Jones followed up with a pair of scores one minute apart, securing the sock trick in the process. New England’s Buchanan tallied the lone goal for the Black Wolves in the third to keep it a one-goal game heading into the fourth.
An early score by Jackson Decker put the Mammoth up by two. New England responded with a three-goal run to tilt the lead back in their favor, 11-10, before Colorado countered with four of their own, ultimately securing the victory for the home team.
Dillon Ward played the first half of the game for Colorado, recording 20 saves on 27 shots faced. Alex Buque played in the second half, stopping 21 of 27.
“I thought they both played good,” Coyle mentioned. “If you look at their stats they are almost exactly the same…we’re not so worried about putting the back up in where other teams there’s not as much depth with goaltending. If you can chase their guy, you know the guy coming in isn’t as good. It’s nice to know that we can just switch.”
Evan Kirk played the full 60 minutes for New England, finishing with 42 saves.
Three Stars of the Game:
1) Adam Jones
2) Callum Crawford
3) Kevin Buchanan
By Nick Salen for NLL.com. Photo by Jack Dempsey.