NLL: Mammoth get much-needed home-floor win

Colorado players celebrate a goal Calgary Roughnecks at Colorado Mammoth on 01/20/24 from Ball Arena in Denver Colorado. (Photo: John Harrison)

Facing off against an old conference foe was just what the doctor ordered for Pat Coyle and the Colorado Mammoth. Backstopped by a dominant Dillon Ward and led up front by four goals from Connor Kelly, the Mammoth beat the visiting Calgary Roughnecks 13-10 on January 20.

“Standings wise, you’re seeing other teams win and it feels like if we don’t start putting some wins together now, we’re going to get left behind,” said Coyle to the Colorado media after the game. “When we went back during the week and watched film and talked to guys, we really felt like we were very close to this. It was just literally a few different plays a game that might have made the difference. I felt like we turned a corner tonight.”

During Colorado’s 1-4 start to the season they’d been plagued by inconsistent goaltending and a tendency to give up big runs to the opposition. However, Dillon Ward and the defensive unit righted the ship on Saturday night and did a much better job of dictating the spots on the floor where Calgary was allowed to shoot.

“We stuck to our game plan. We didn’t get out of sorts when they had their little run in that second quarter. We just stuck to what we wanted to do. Limited their opportunities from where we wanted to limit them from and we just played a solid game all around,” said Dillon Ward.

The first half was an evenly matched affair with both teams banging out three-goal runs. Connor Kelly started cooking with back-to-back goals in the second quarter before Thomas Hoggarth knotted the score up at 5-5 at the break.

Dillon Ward and Christian Del Bianco continued to go toe-to-toe in the third quarter with both goalies landing long breakaway passes that were converted into goals. The momentum of the game all changed at the 7:58 mark of the third quarter when stay-at-home defensemen Brett Craig blasted a quick-stick goal past Del Bianco to put Colorado up one. The Mammoth bench was noticeably energized by Craig’s effort and the lead would not be relinquished. Tallies from Wardle, Edwards, Gibson, Cupido and two more from Connor Kelly were more than enough to salt away a 13-10 victory.

Overall, Calgary played a sound game with no glaring errors. Like Pat Coyle had mentioned earlier about his team, it was just a few plays that determined the outcome for the Roughnecks. Thomas Hoggarth led Calgary in goal scoring recording his first hat trick with his new team while Jesse King notched seven assists. An interesting observation about King’s production is he continues to rack up assists at an extraordinary rate, but in Calgary’s three losses the opposition has held him to just two goals. Goaltender Christian Del Bianco allowed 12 goals on 49 shots, but it was a spectacular stick save he made robbing Eli McLaughlin in the fourth quarter that was the highlight of the night for Calgary.

The Colorado Mammoth (2-4) head out on the road for the first of four away games. First up is the Vancouver Warriors (2-4) on January 26th. The Roughnecks have yet another bye week before taking on Jeff Teat and the New York Riptide (2-4) at West Jet Field in Calgary on February 2nd.