NLL: Mammoth defeat longtime playoff foe in quarterfinal

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For years, there’s been an immovable object that has stood in the way of the Colorado Mammoth. That object was the Calgary Roughnecks and on Friday night the Mammoth finally smashed through and defeated their longtime playoff foe with a convincing 16-12 victory. The Mammoth played a textbook road game highlighted by two four-goal runs in the second half to secure their berth in the West Conference Finals.

Connor Robinson scored five goals for the Mammoth, but it was his two goals, late in the third, that gave his team a lead they would not relinquish.

“Going on the road, this is such a tough barn to play in, coming in on a Friday night just feeling the energy of the crowd,” Robinson said. “We just stuck together as a team – offense, defense. Wardo is an absolute brick wall in the back of the net. We just played together for a full 60 minutes. The score speaks for itself. We had a good game.”

The Mammoth did have a good game, especially considering they’d lost the season finale to the Riggers just six days prior.

Jordan Gilles opened the scoring for Colorado with a far-side snipe in transition at the 4:31 mark. Calgary immediately answered with a transition goal of their own from Haiden Dickson. This back-and-forth style highlighted the first half of play and when the horn sounded, Colorado held a slight 7-6 advantage.

Jesse King struck early in the third and followed it up with another just minutes later to put the Roughnecks ahead by one. If you looked at the scoresheet you would have seen that Eli McLaughlin scored the next goal. What you wouldn’t know is that prior to the goal, there was a prolonged loose ball battle the Mammoth eventually won that led directly to McLaughlin’s quick-stick goal. By the end of the quarter, Colorado had an 11-9 lead and all the momentum.

Ryan Lee scored 3:48 into the fourth giving the Mammoth a three-goal cushion. With just 11 minutes left to prolong their season, the Roughnecks mounted a furious attack. Dan Taylor scored in tight and then Eli Salama stripped Robert Hope and fired the ball into the net bringing the Roughies to within one. However, Pat Coyle’s team responded with a momentum sapping goal 21 seconds later. Right off the faceoff, four Roughnecks got caught on the wrong side of center which led to Tim Edwards sending the ball up to Zed Williams on a breakaway. Williams faked short side and then stuck it far side on Christian Del Bianco. The goal proved too much for the Roughnecks to overcome as Colorado kept their foot on the gas scoring another three goals.

Perhaps more so than in other years, the Mammoth’s offensive attack was spread out, deadly and impossible to contain. Instead of keying in on one or two players, the Roughnecks’ defense had their hands full with all five players. Breakout star Ryan Lee had 10 points. Eli McLaughlin and Connor Robinson combined for 12 points. Chris Wardle had five points. Zed Williams had three points, and the list goes on. All-star goalie Dillon Ward stopped 35 of 47 and Tim Edwards won 20 of 30 faceoffs.

After scoring a sock trick just six days ago, Curtis Dickson was held goalless by the Mammoth defense. Dickson contributed six assists, while Jesse King, Zach Herreweyers and Tyler Pace each had a hat trick. Del Bianco faced 53 shots and made 37 saves. Zach Currier gained his team 16 possessions by scooping 13 loosies and causing three turnovers.

Next Friday, the Mammoth visit San Diego for game one of a best-of-three series to determine who will represent the West for the NLL Championship.