Di Miller, Colorado Mammoth Correspondent
Lacrosse is Awesome©
Featured Image Photo Credit: Candice Ward
On Friday May 6, 2022, the Colorado Mammoth (11-8) headed back to the Scotiabank Saddledome to face their rivals the Calgary Roughnecks (10-9) for a rematch and the Single Elimination game for Round One in the Quarterfinals of the 2021-22 Playoffs. The last time that Colorado defeated Calgary in a playoff game was in 2006 so it was time. That was also when the Mammoth won the NLL Championship. After playing in front of 15,891 fans last weekend, only 6,000 Riggers fans showed up to support their team which may have played a part in the defeat. Curtis Dickson was held scoreless during the contest after having scored five in a row last weekend and notching his third sock trick of the season. The teams would trade goals throughout, with several ties and the largest lead by either, was a two-goal lead until the last few minutes in the fourth when the Mammoth lit it up. It all boiled down to who would be the best net-minder in the contest and Dillon Ward who was sitting second in the league in saves, third in save percentage and fifth in wins put on a spectacular performance stopping 35 of 47 shots on cage sending his team into Round Two of the playoffs. This was only the second time in 12 match ups that the Mammoth have defeated the Roughnecks in playoff history. Final Score: Mammoth 16—Roughnecks 12.
The game got off to a slow start unlike last weekend when the first point hit the net 30 seconds in. Colorado would come out scoring on a turnover with Joey Cupido feeding to Jordan Gilles (2g, 2a) on the run and he pinged the top corner at the 4:31 mark to put them on the board 1-0. It was short lived as Calgary’s Haiden Dickson (1g) in transition would come across the crease and send one down low five-hole on Ward 28 seconds later for the equalizer 1-1. It took almost three and half minutes before the score board would change, and the Mammoth would notch the tallies. Connor Robinson (5g, 1a) found an open lane, cut to the net, flew over the crease and dunked it over the right shoulder of Christian Del Bianco with 6:30 to go. He’d notch another heading out of the “O” door from way out and ripped one short side putting Colorado up 2-1. The last three quickly came from Calgary. Tyler Pace (3g, 3a) was near the crease and put a dirty goal past Ward off a deflection with 3:41; Zack Herreweyers (3g) came around his defender and fired an overhand shot past Ward with 2:44 left for the tying goal 3-3; and Jessie King took an overhand shot right up the middle to bury it far side for the go ahead marker with 2:15 in the frame. First quarter stats: SOG—Colorado 13 Calgary 12; Face-offs Colorado 6-8 Calgary 2-8; Saves Colorado 8 Calgary 10. Score at the end of one: Mammoth 4—Roughnecks 3.
Just as in the first Colorado would once again get on the board first. Chris Wardle sent the cross-field feed to Eli McLaughlin (3g, 3a) and with the quick stick, he tucked it in far side with a low angle shot and we were tied at 4’s. The Mammoth would go man up at the 2:58 mark and Robinson would sneak it in down low far side for the power-play marker and his hat-trick on the night 5-4 Colorado. Ryan Lee, Connor Robinson and Eli McLaughlin are the highest scoring trio in the league and tonight the three would combine for 10 goals total. The teams would go another four and half without a point and Calgary would go on the man up with Colorado sitting 5th in PK percentage and Calgary at 9th in PP percentage, so the odds were in favor of Colorado. But the Roughnecks found a way and Pace bounced it off Ward top corner stick side for the power-play tally with 6:37 left in the half to tie it up 5-5. Two minutes later the Mammoth would put up two quick goals. Ryan Lee (2g, 8a) was the recipient of the rebound off the glass, grabbed it and dove through the crease to dunk it far side 6-5 Colorado with 4:25 to go. Then 24 seconds later McLaughlin on top of the crease, got a nice feed from Zed Williams and went down low for the easy finish under the stick 7-5. With 2:06 in the half, Calgary would go man up again and Herreweyers from way out dialed it in from deep and tucked it in past Ward for their second power play marker on the night with 1:01 to go. That was it for the half. Second quarter stats: SOG—Colorado 16 Calgary 11; Face-offs Colorado 2-7 Calgary 5-7; Saves Colorado 9 Calgary 12. Mammoth 7—Roughnecks 6.
The fans would see another high scoring quarter with Calgary opening up the second half. Colorado would win the draw but turn it over, King grabbed the loose ball, headed down the floor and fired it past his defender and under the glove of Ward 30 seconds in 7-7 Roughnecks. At the 3:21 mark, somehow King found a way to put his shot between two defenders and with the low-to-low shot found an opening on the near side for the go ahead tally 8-7. Once again, another three ticked off the timer before another point went up. McLaughlin got the return feed, and with a low angle shot from the right side and the nice finish put it past Del Bianco to tie it at 8’s at the 6:16 mark. Herreweyers would tally his hat-trick from the outside when he got Ward to drop to one knee and put it near side pipe over the stick at 7:33 for the lead 9-8. With 5:20 left in the third, on the delayed penalty Colorado would pull Ward and go with the 6 on 5. Lee with the no look feed to Chris Wardle (1g, 4a) on the back door dunked it near side with Del Bianco making the initial save but it rolled in 9-9. Four more would come off the timer and with 1:29 left Robinson with another wide-open lane from way out nailed it far side top 10-9. With one second on the clock in the third, Robinson would fire another long ball on the run through the screen and nailed it before the buzzer. Third quarter stats: SOG—Colorado 13 Calgary 7; Face-offs Colorado 7-8 Calgary 1-8; Saves Colorado 10 Calgary 3. Score at the end of three: Mammoth 11—Roughnecks 9.
It was do or die with 15 to go in both squads’ seasons. Colorado would be first to score in the fourth with Wardle feeding to Lee and he would shoot from the lefty side out in front, went low to low glove side at 3:48 for the first three-goal lead of the game 12-9. Exactly one minute later, Dan Taylor (1g, 1a) on the pick and roll dove to the crease and finished in tight 12-10. With 6:33 left in the Roughnecks season, Eli Salama (1g, 1a) forced the turnover stealing the ball at midfield, scooped the loosie, headed down the field and deposited it in past Ward 12-11. Only 21 seconds later on the ensuing face-off Zed Williams (1g, 2a) on the fast break faked high left and went down low right side 13-11 Mammoth. With 5:30 to go, it was getting very physical with the possession of every loose ball imperative. There was 2:51 on the game clock and Tyson Gibson was cutting across the crease and from up high he dropped it in over the shoulder of Del Bianco with one second on the shot clock 14-11 Colorado. With the next possession Del Bianco headed off the floor, Joey Cupido scooped the loosie headed down the floor and with the perfect bounce shot, buried it in the net from the right side with 1:55 to go and the Roughnecks playoff hopes fading fast. It took only 12 seconds before the Mammoth put the final nail in the coffin. Gilles who opened the scoring in the contest would get the feed from Tim Edwards off the draw, he used a couple of pump fakes left-right-left and dunked it over the shoulder of Del Bianco 16-11. With 1:14 left in the Roughnecks season, Pace from the left wing would fire a shot between two defenders and put it far side for his hat-trick to end the season. Final Score: Mammoth 16—Roughnecks 12.
Now the Mammoth will have to wait until tonight night to see who wins at Pechanga Arena. The Philadelphia Wings defeated the San Diego Seals in Pechanga on April 8 in OT by the score of 13-12. Can they do it again? If so, then the Mammoth will host the Wings at the Loud House on Friday May 13 & we’ll be there covering. If not, then Colorado will head to San Diego to face the Seals for Round 2 of the 2021-22 playoffs.
Colorado Mammoth—SOG 53; Saves 35; Face-offs 21-32; PP 1-2; Assists 26; LB 53; TO 27
Calgary Roughnecks—SOG 47; Saves 37; Face-offs 11-32; PP 2-3; Assists 18; LB 67; TO 19
Di Miller, Colorado Mammoth Correspondent
Lacrosse is Awesome©