Mammoth Blank Roughnecks in Fourth, Head to NLL Finals – 5/20/2023

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Justin Ivey, Co-Editor
Lacrosse is Awesome©

The Colorado Mammoth and Calgary Roughnecks met three times during the regular season, and after being knotted up 1-1 after two games of the West Division Final, the sixth game between the two teams determined the Finals representative.  The score was as expected. With Dillon Ward (33SV) and Christian Del Bianco (28SV) in net for Colorado and Calgary respectively, and so much on the line, neither team broke into double digit goals.  The lead bounced back and forth, and Calgary looked poised to move on when they took the lead in the third quarter and blanked the Mammoth.  The masses were doing a double take when Colorado flipped the script and held Calgary scoreless in the fourth, scoring three straight to secure their Finals spot as the Western Division Champion.  Final Score:  Colorado-9, Calgary-7.

The first quarter ended up being the highest scoring quarter of the game, with the teams combining for six goals.  It started right out of the gate, as Jeff Cornwall (1G, 1A) scored in transition to give Calgary the lead just 49 seconds into the game.  The score came while they were killing a penalty and was Cornwall’s third of the postseason.  Colorado evened the score just 19 seconds later on the power play opportunity when Eli McLaughlin (1G, 2A) faked Del Bianco to the ground before hitting the net.  The defenses settled in after a fiery opening minute and change. Almost seven minutes ticked off the game clock before Jesse King (1G, 1A) gave the lead back to the home Roughnecks.  His shot was too tough for Ward to track as he unleashed a well-placed shot from outside through traffic.  Calgary doubled up with 4:20 left in the quarter as Haiden Dickson (1G, 2A) made a great cut, catching a feed from King before burying an underhand bounce shot.  Zed Williams (2G, 2A), the only multi goal scorer of the contest, got Colorado to within one with 3:23 left, but the Roughnecks jumped ahead two once more as Kyle Waters (1G, 1A) beat Ward five-hole just over a minute later.  At the end of the first quarter, Calgary led Colorado 4-2.

Photo Credit: Colorado Mammoth Facebook

After being outscored 4-2 in the first fifteen minutes, Colorado ended up outscoring Calgary 7-3 in the remainder of the game.  The flip started in the second quarter.  Two goals within the first two minutes of the quarter, and 20 seconds of each other, had Colorado tied before the Roughnecks fans knew what hit them.  Ryan Lee (1G, 1A) came flying off the bench in transition and caught a great pass from McLaughlin before going airborne across the crease to score.  After a procedure call on Calgary off the ensuing faceoff, the Colorado offense wasted no time passing it around to find an opening.  Chris Wardle (1G, 1A) took advantage of a small window, and after two fortunate bounces, the ball crossed the crease.  Again, both defenses responded by cranking up the heat.  It took a ridiculous effort from Zach Currier (1G, 1A) to break through with 9:37 remaining in the half.  Del Bianco threw a long clear to Shane Simpson (1G, 1A) to set up a two on one with him and Currier.  They passed it back and forth and eventually Simpson shot while Currier’s momentum tripped him up behind the net.  Ward made the save, but the rebound settled in the crease beside him.  Looking down at the ball the whole way, Currier scrambled halfway up before changing direction to scoop the ball and dunk it.  Just 30 seconds later though, Tyson Gibson (1G, 1A) tied the game 5-5 with a rocket from the top middle.  Colorado carried that momentum to score again with 5:20 left.  Tim Edwards (1G) took the ball coast to coast to put Colorado ahead of Calgary 6-5 entering the half.

The second half was the tail of two cities.  Calgary started the third quarter by tying the game just 1:11 in.  Tanner Cook (1G, 1A) scored from outside on a second chance possession for the home team.  They took the lead just over two minutes later when Simpson scored in transition while the team was fighting off another penalty.  Their second shorthanded goal of the game was the last goal of the quarter and at the end of the third, Calgary led Colorado 7-6.

Remember, tale of two cities.  Colorado tied the game with the first goal of the fourth quarter, but it came after 6:08 of time had already expired.  26:28 of game had passed since they last scored with just over five minutes left in the first half.  Despite the great goaltending, Williams found the net from behind the restraining line for his second of the game.  The eventual game winning goal was scored by Warren Jeffrey (1G, 2A) with 6:28 remaining.  The score came unassisted as Jeffrey ran it from end to end.  After such a long scoring drought, Colorado held Calgary without a goal for the entire fourth quarter.  The final tally of the game put Colorado ahead two with 14 seconds remaining.  Connor Robinson (1G, 1A) scored the empty netter, definitively sending Colorado to the NLL Championship for a rematch with the Buffalo Bandits.  Final Score:  Colorado-9, Calgary-7.