The Colorado Mammoth (6-2) earned the team’s second win in Week 7 and improved its first-place standing in the West Division by defeating the Calgary Roughnecks (3-4) by a score of 13-8 in front of 9,888 fans at Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday night.
“It’s huge, this whole weekend was huge for us,” said Mammoth forward Callum Crawford. “Wins inside your division are massive, they’re [two win] swings.”
Top points earners for the ‘Necks tonight were Curtis Dickson (1+4), Tyler Digby (3+1), and rookie first-rounder Reilly O’Connor, who scored his first career NLL goal, while the main contributors for the Mammoth were Callum Crawford (3+5), Jeremy Noble (1+5), Adam Jones (4+0) and Mike Burke (2+2).
Even with eight points in the game, Crawford was humble, admitting he didn’t pick up his feet until the back end of the game.
“To be honest, I played awful for three quarters, my teammates picked me up throughout the game, and credit goes to them. Points doesn’t dictate what happens on the floor,” he said. “Everybody else on offense were the guys who were doing it tonight. I was able to get some stuff late. But Noble, Burke, he did some incredible things, Junior I saw him playing away, showed so much leadership, and Jonesy, he’s scoring all the time, those guys are the ones who played unbelievable tonight.”
The Roughnecks were the ones to strike first as rookie forward Wesley Berg scored his seventh goal of the season after beating Colorado Goaltender Dillon Ward by diving across the crease. The Roughnecks found themselves on a power play after Mammoth forward Chris Wardle was sent to the sin bin on a slashing call. This gave Berg another chance to snipe one past Ward for his second of the night, less than five minutes into the frame. Roughnecks’ forward Tyler Digby then found himself in front of the net and popped one five hole after a feed from Curtis ‘Superman’ Dickson. The Mammoth tried to respond on a power play after a slashing call for Jon Harnett, but ‘Necks netminder Frankie Scigliano stood tall, creating a perfect power play kill for the home team. At the end of the first quarter, a strong Calgary defense held Colorado off the scoreboard.
“We knew going I that it was going to be a battle.” Coyle stated. “We came out really flat, 4-0 after the first quarter. So there was a moment I think we worried like ‘ah, it’s going to be one of these games.’”
The Mammoth managed to pick up the pace in the second quarter, but it wasn’t enough to hold back Dickson on a breakaway, as he got his first of the night. The Mammoth then found an opportunity to put one past Scigliano, but officials declared it no goal, due to a crease violation. It wasn’t until 10:36 in the second that the Mammoth found twine, forward Adam Jones got the first of the night for Colorado on a power play. This spurred some momentum for the visiting team as forward Mike Burke scored his 3rd of the season assisted by John Grant and Jeremy Noble.
A quick counterattack came from the ‘Necks, as Digby fired a laser from the slot, and got his second of night. Colorado lead scorer Adam Jones managed to get another for his team, quickly followed with two more off the sticks of defenseman Ilija Gajic and forward Eli McLaughlin. The Mammoth making a comeback to tie the game at 5-5 just before the half.
“It just shows the resiliency of this team and the belief.” Crawford said. “We never got down and we knew that we were capable of putting the ball in the net. It was gonna come.”
“I think we have a group that really believes in what we’re doing” Coyle stated. “No matter what the score is we’re just going to keep going.”
The first five minutes of the third frame were conservative as both teams played an equal back-and-forth game. The two teams saw many chances but couldn’t put a goal on the board. Riggers rookie defenseman Kellen LeClair took a five minute major high sticking call, giving Jones an opportunity to earn himself a hat trick, and one extra on a power play. It would give the Mammoth its first lead of the game, 7-5. The tables turned for the Riggers in the third as they found themselves shut out for the whole quarter.
A 15 minute shut out is uncharacteristic of the ‘Necks but it may be because Dane Dobbie was missing from the line-up tonight with an upper body injury
“You take a 40-goal scorer out of the lineup, that’s massive,” said Roughnecks head coach Curt Malawsky. “I’m not going to sit here and lie to you and try to sugarcoat it. We miss a guy like that.”
“I thought we started real well, had a bit of a lull at the end of the second quarter where they came back and grabbed some momentum,” Malawsky said. “We had a power play coming out of the half that we didn’t execute on and we had a couple more power plays in the third quarter that didn’t execute on and we ended up not scoring in the third quarter.”
“The guys responded and kept sticking to it and our defense,” Coyle stated. “Especially Ward, he played awesome and gave us a chance to come back there.”
The ‘Necks didn’t let a scoreless third put a dampen on its fourth, rookie forward Reilly O’Connor scored his first goal career goal in the NLL.
“It was great that Reilly got his first goal. That’s big for us and a big monkey off his back. He’s been great for us and for him to get one was big,” Malawsky said.
However, the Mammoth weren’t about to give up its lead that easy, as a quick one off the stick of Jeremy Noble, and another from Callum Crawford stretched Colorado’s lead to three.
““They went on a run to start the fourth quarter and before you know it, it’s 11-6 and you’re battling back.” Malawsky stated.”
This was enough incentive to pull Scigliano from net at 12:40 and send Mike Poulin out on the floor, but his stint of the game didn’t last long. The Mammoth took a four-goal lead after another from Crawford, and Scigliano was put back in net. Burke would get his second of the night, however Digby would manage a hat trick shortly after. Still, the Mammoth led by four, with 9:58 left in the game.
The Mammoth lead the increased to five after forward John Grant got his first of the night, assisted by Jeremy Noble. One more off the stick of Crawford, and another with 10 seconds left from Wesley Berg would end the game. The Mammoth showed everyone that the Roughnecks, who fought back for a come-from-behind win vs. Georgia last week, isn’t the only team who can make a big comeback.
“I think we have a group that really believes in what we’re doing and no matter what the score is we’re just going to keep going.” Crawford said. “That was the most unselfish I’ve seen the team play, everybody picked each other up, just shows what can happen when everyone’s included.”
The Mammoth will host the Vancouver Stealth on February 27 after a week off, while the Roughnecks will travel to Vancouver next Saturday.
“Offensively, we need to need to get better,” Malawsky said. “We have a practice on Friday and a shootaround in the morning (next Saturday). I promise you that, we’ll be better.”
Three Stars of the Game:
1) Adam Jones
2) Dillon Ward
3) Tyler Digby
By Laura Bates for NLL.com. Photo by Candice Ward.