NLL: Mammoth pick up where they left off after 2022 championship win; defeat Calgary on banner raising night

Connor Robinson. Colorado Mammoth v Calgary Roughnecks 01-07-23. (Photo: Jack Dempsey)

The Colorado Mammoth won the 2022 NLL Championship with superior defense, goaltending, physical play and a never-say-die attitude. It’s somehow fitting that on the night they raised the Championship banner to the rafters of Ball Arena, the Mammoth needed all of those traits to come from behind to beat the Calgary Roughnecks 9-8.

Trailing 5-2 at halftime, off the heels of Jesse King’s second of the night, the defending champs turned to Connor Robinson who scored four goals in the second half for five on the night. The Mammoth won the third period 5-2, scoring four goals before the media time-out, and three of those from outside shots. After Colorado tied the game at six (the first tie since it was 2-2 in the first), Seth Van Schepen broke out in transition for his first career NLL goal.

Prior to the break Dillon Ward stopped transition attempts from both Shane Simpson and Harrison Matsuoka, keeping the game close. He’d finish with 49 saves.

Robinson, whose pair of goals in the fourth each gave Colorado its only leads of the night (8-7 and 9-8), praised his netminder after the game saying, “We feed off [Ward] being a brick wall on the back end for us, and the energy of the fans.” Those fans all went home, not just with the win, but also replica championship banners. Robinson added, “It’s banner night. We wanted to make it special.”

Colorado limited Calgary to just 18 shots in the second half, although had just five of their own (two goals) in the fourth. Roughnecks’ starting goaltender Christian Del Bianco stopped 38 of 47 shot attempts.

Rhys Duch’s power play goal in the first period got the Mammoth on the board. It was also his 1000th career point, making him the 12th player in NLL history to reach the milestone. He finished with five points.

Jesse King led Calgary with five points (2 goals, 3 assists), while Tanner Cook had four (2 goals, 2 assists).