Two teams that cannot escape the grasp of destiny met once again in the West Division Semifinal Saturday night in Denver. As recent history would come to pass again, the Calgary Roughnecks edged the Colorado Mammoth by a final of 11-10 in overtime. There were 13,116 fans in attendance at Pepsi Center.
Dane Dobbie scored the game-winning goal at the 10:17 mark of the longest overtime in NLL postseason history.
“Did anybody expect anything different coming down here? Every time we play these guys it’s always a tight game,” Dobbie said. “Tonight, I got a shot off I didn’t know where it was going, it just went in late. It was an all-around good win.”
Dobbie finished the night with five points (2+3) along side points leader Curtis Dickson (5+4).
Dickson was the other half of the Roughnecks’ fourth-consecutive semifinal win against Colorado, who tied the game with 25 seconds remaining in regulation.
“It’s ‘never say die’ with us,” Dickson commented. “We always know there’s a chance, as long as we have the ball we got to believe in ourselves.”
Calgary now boasts an 8-1 all-time postseason record against the Mammoth. For Colorado, it was a bitter pill to swallow, now winless in the postseason for a decade.
“It felt like we deserved better,” Mammoth coach Pat Coyle. “I’m really proud of how we played. It’s hard. It’s so disappointing. I honestly thought we were going to move on to the next round and slay the dragon that’s been bugging us for so many years.”
Jeremy Noble (4+1) highlighted Colorado’s offense, tying a career high on the night, alongside Adam Jones (4+0) in his return to the Mammoth lineup.
Colorado jumped out to an early 2-0 lead courtesy of Noble and Chris Wardle. Calgary quickly erased that with back-to-back scores by Tyler Digby in the span of 28 seconds, and a go ahead goal by Dobbie to gain their first lead of the night stretching into the second frame.
Down two, Jones and Noble went back-to-back to tie the game 4-4. Wesley Berg tilted the lead back to the Roughnecks before Noble picked up his third of the evening on a long shot in the final seconds of the half to tie the game again 5-5.
Dickson picked up the hat trick midway through the third on a shorthanded attempt to give the Riggers the 6-5 lead. Jones would tie the game on a powerplay goal late in the stanza, but Dickson answered once again 20 seconds later, giving Calgary the one-goal lead back heading into the fourth.
Colorado tied and regained the lead briefly in the opening moments of the fourth, but could not find a solution to Dickson, who’s fourth of the night tied the game 8-8. Jones gave the lead back to Colorado with just over eight minutes to play. With under a minute to play in regulation and with an extra attacker, Dickson picked up goal number five to tie the game 10-10 and forcing overtime.
Calgary won the opening faceoff and was quick to call timeout, but could not convert on the ensuing possession. The teams swapped turns on offense, but at 4:43, Dobbie prevailed with the game-winning goal to send Calgary to its fourth-straight West Division Finals.
“You put in the hard work, you get the rewards and it’s huge,” Roughnecks head coach and assistant GM Curt Malawsky commented. “Our guys battled, [Colorado] went up late and we stuck with our game plan.”
“You’re exhausted, it’s warm in the building, the intensity of 60 minutes…watching the defense and the goaltending play gives you the energy to go out there and play hard and get the ball in the back of the net,” Dickson added.
On defense, Mike Poulin was the third musketeer in the Riggers’ victory, recording 56 saves on 66 shots.
“[Poulin and I] talked last night, they had thought their goaltender was better, and that was something in the back of our mind,” Malawsky said. “He made some huge saves. When the game is on the line, he shut them down and gave us an opportunity to go back the other way.”
The defensive battle was just as strong in the goaltending by Dillon Ward, who stopped 47 of 58.
Three Stars of the Game:
1) Curtis Dickson
2) Dane Dobbie
3) Jeremy Noble
The Roughnecks will meet the Saskatoon Rush in the West Division Finals with Game 1 in Calgary on Saturday, May 14 at 9 p.m. ET.
By Nick Salen for NLL.com. Photo by Jack Dempsey.