NLL Playoffs: Roughnecks eliminate Mammoth

Dane Dobbie celebrates a goal against the Colorado Mammoth. (Photo credit: Cliff McCaig)

With over a decade of playoff heartbreak at the hands of the Calgary Roughnecks, the Colorado Mammoth seemed on the verge of finally defeating their long-time rival on Saturday night during the NLL’s 2018 west division semi-final. The Loud House crowd of 13,884 was rocking as the Mammoth dominated the first half of play. Unfortunately for the Mammoth, that dominating first half was erased and the Roughnecks emerged with a 15-12 win.

Veteran Calgary forward and Mammoth killer Dane Dobbie had a huge game for the visitors. Down 7-3 after two quarters, Dobbie took over in the second half and carried his team to victory. Dobbie’s goals were a highlight reel all to themselves. A wicked behind-the-back goal was followed by a lightning fast quick-stick goal. That was then followed by a crease dive and finally capped off with an unbelievable individual effort that saw Dobbie stickhandle through three Mammoth players before burying it behind Dillon Ward. When the final buzzer sounded, Dobbie led all scorers with six goals and three assists.

“I don’t think anybody liked our first half but we stuck with it as a team,” Dobbie said to Roughnecks TV. “Delbs bailed us out there early in the second half and multiple times throughout the game. We stuck with the process and we played honest lacrosse.”

The Mammoth got off to the start they wanted. After an early Calgary goal, Colorado’s offence went to work and scored the next six goals. Those six goals came from six different players as Colorado effectively moved the ball around and controlled the play. By the end of the first half, Colorado had a comfortable four-goal lead.

Fifteen seconds into the third, Zach Currier broke in on goalie Dillon Ward and defender Greg Downing was forced to hold Currier. The ref awarded the Roughnecks a penalty shot and Curtis Dickson was chosen to take the shot. Dickson came down on Ward and after a couple of stick fakes, Dickson promptly rang the ball off the short-side post. Undeterred by the miss, Calgary found the back of the net just 1:13 later. Calgary beat Dillon Ward five more times and the two clubs ended a very physical third tied 9-9.

With a trip to the western division finals on the line, Calgary and Colorado went toe-to-toe in the final frame. Dickson scored first only to have Colorado answer with two quick goals by Zach Greer and a great individual effort from Jeremy Noble. After Dobbie tied it back up, the two teams exchanged goals again to knot the score at 12. With 2:43 remaining, Tyler Digby spotted Curtis Dickson coming from behind the net and Dickson finished with a shot over Ward’s left shoulder. That goal turned out to be the game winner as Calgary added two more empty net goals.

“Our biggest challenge was Ward, especially in the first half,” Dobbie said. “He made some huge saves. We had great looks but it’s a tough game. The game is always up and down. We knew there would be adversity and there was massive adversity in the first half. We just didn’t want the season to end, that’s what it came down to.”

Ryan Benesch, who finished sixth overall in league scoring with 93 points, led the Mammoth attack with two goals and three assists. Jacob Ruest also had two goals and three assists, while Zach Greer finished with three goals and an assist. Goaltender Dillon Ward played the entire game and faced 44 shots, stopping 31 of them.

Along with Dobbie, Calgary got two goals and five assists from Wesley Berg and four goals and an assist from Curtis Dickson. Christian Del Bianco stopped 38 of 50 for a 0.760 save percentage.

Calgary will continue on to Saskatchewan to face the Rush on Sunday May 13th in the western division final.