As Jeff Shattler put it after the game, the Calgary Roughnecks versus Colorado Mammoth matchup could be boiled down to lopsided special teams.
In a very physical game, the Mammoth were rewarded with seven powerplays, including a five-minute major in the fourth quarter, while the Roughnecks were not granted a single man advantage the entire night.
“The big part of that game, I’ll say first hand, was the penalties,” said Shattler, who led both teams with four goals on the night. “7-0 in penalties, plus a five-minute major was huge for them.
“We didn’t have a powerplay all game, and it’s not right to have a lacrosse game where a team doesn’t have a single powerplay, especially how vicious the game can be in the corners. That played a big part.”
Colorado took advantage of the man advantages, firing three goals on the powerplay on way to a 10-9 overtime win on Saturday night, ending the Roughnecks four game winning streak.
“I’ve been around the game for 40 years and I’ve never seen a team not once get a penalty,” said Roughnecks head coach Curt Malawsky. “I’m not saying the calls against us were bad. They were what they were. The league should review the tape because there has to be a couple penalties there.
“It’s not fair to our guys, but I’m not taking anything away from the Mammoth organization.”
The Roughnecks were heading into the game almost blind, with the Mammoth bringing in a new coaching staff this week. Chris Gill, Dan Stroup and Pat Coyle, the three co-coaches, would have brought in their own variation of a gameplan, one the Roughnecks never would have seen before.
However, Shattler said it wasn’t much of a problem.
“Most teams are set in their motions they’ve been taught from the beginning of the year, and it’s tough to break that over a week,” he said. “They pretty much played the same way."
The night featured three long scoring runs between the two teams.
Calgary jumped out to a 5-0 lead early in the second quarter, before the Mammoth scored nine straight goals as the Roughnecks went on a scoring drought of nearly 40 minutes.
“It’s easy to go on a nine-goal run when you’re on the powerplay all the time,” Malawsky said.
“We had the right start going up 5-0, but then we got complacent,” Shattler said. “We rested on our lead.
“That’s on us.”
However in the last five minutes of the game, Calgary reeled off four straight goals to tie it up and send it to overtime,
Just a few minutes minutes into sudden death, with both teams owning a few possessions each, Sean Pollock finished the night with his third goal of the game.
“For us to battle back, it showed our heart and that’s the best thing we can take out of that game,” Shattler said.
“It’s great for morale and going into the second half of the season, it’s great to show other teams that we can push back and take it into overtime.
“If we are ever in this situation again, we know that it’s possible.”
It was fitting on a night where the Mammoth were trying to “Lacrosse Out Cancer” that Pollock was the overtime hero. His wife Jenna is a breast cancer survivor.
“What the Mammoth organization did for cancer was first-class the entire way, Malawsky said. “It was very special and something that touched everyone.”
Shawn Evans finished the night with six helpers to surpass 400 career NLL assists. Daryl Veltman scored a pair of goals and set up another, while Curtis Dickson (1g, 1a), Geoff Snider (1g, 1a) and Dan MacRae (1g) rounded out the scoring for Calgary.
Drew Westervelt (2g, 2a) and Casey Powell (2g, 2a) both posted four-point efforts for the Mammoth, while Pollock added two goals in regulation to finish the game with a hat trick. John Grant Jr. (1g, 5a), Athan Iannucci (1g, 1a) and Joel Dalgarno (1g, 3a) also scored for the home squad.
The Roughnecks now move on for what has the makings of an epic battle with the Edmonton Rush next weekend. The Rush are a perfect 9-0 to start the season, an NLL record. Game time is 7 p.m. at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday.