It is not hyperbole or overhype to suggest that Games 1 and 2 of the West Conference Finals have served as shining examples of box lacrosse at its best. Talented teams, energized fan bases and down-to-the-wire action that leaves followers of the game wanting oh so much more. Saturday’s 13-12 Roughnecks triumph was truly one for the books! The series is now tied 1-1, heading into an all the marbles Game 3, next weekend, once again in Alberta’s largest city.
Fans at Calgary’s WestJet Field at Scotiabank Saddledome witnessed the great Connor Robinson open the Game 2 scoring for Colorado, marking his third consecutive goal of the series after his Game 1 heroics. The British Columbia native would finish the contest with his second straight hat trick, giving him six combined goals in the first two affairs. Mammoth icons Zed Williams and Eli McLaughlin tallied three and two goals respectively, as the reigning champs gave the Roughnecks all they could possibly handle.
On the victorious side, Calgary stalwarts Tyler Pace and Tanner Cook each garnered three scores, with Cook’s early third behind-the-back gem serving as perhaps the most memorable play of the game. In addition, Roughnecks captain Jesse King contributed two goals and six assists in the win or go home battle of wills.
The Roughnecks jumped out to a 6-3, early 3rd quarter lead, that would eventually turn into a 10-6, early fourth quarter advantage. A spirited Mammoth comeback got the club within one goal (on two separate occasions) including a Williams hat trick attaining score that made the game 13-12, with 95 seconds of lacrosse remaining. A last second defensive stand from Calgary resulted in Colorado not being able to even get a shot on CGY goalie Christian Del Bianco, as the final seconds ticked off the clock.
All told, Del Bianco stymied 32 of 44 shots, with Mammoth goalie Dillon Ward shielding 37 of 50 scoring attempts. The pair of high performing netminders have been doing everything humanly possible to keep their respective teams in the first two games, getting in the way of a slew of scoring chances, including multiple breakaway and close-range opportunities.
Game 1 at Denver’s Ball Arena saw the defending champion Mammoth fall behind early, before making a dramatic comeback, capped by back-to-back goals from the aforementioned Robinson, sealing the 8-7 Colorado triumph. Game 2 shook out much the same, except this time the victorious team plays it games closer to the Canadian Rockies, as opposed to the US version of those iconic mountain ranges.
After two incredibly hard-fought games, the series that is quickly becoming one for the ages, concludes with a decisive Game 3, Saturday, May 20 at 9:30 ET/7:30 MT. The battle for a spot in the NLL Final and a date with the steamrolling Buffalo Bandits, who finished off the Toronto Rock in Saturday’s early matchup, is available on TSN, TSN+ and ESPN+.