CALGARY, AB – Shawn Evans took full advantage of his opportunity to lead the Calgary Roughnecks to an overtime win over the Colorado Mammoth.
Evans scored at 1:23 of extra session Roughnecks edged the Colorado Mammoth 16-15 in the West Division Semi-Final clash between the two National Lacrosse League rivals on Saturday night.
“Get a shot, we’ll win this game,” said Evans of his mindset heading into OT. “We got a shot, we won the game.”
Following a big save by Calgary goaltender Mike Poulin, the Riggers marched down the floor and Evans spun and fired a shot from the top past Colorado goalie Dillon Ward to send the crowd of 12,375 fans at the Scotiabank Saddledome into a frenzy.
“I just tried to bulldoze my way to the middle and I got an opening and I let ‘er rip,” said Evans, who finished second in NLL scoring in the regular season with 105 points on 26 goals and 79 assists. “It was incredible – the emotions and everything going through your body. Seeing the ball hit the back of the mesh was the biggest thrill.”
Calgary coach Curt Malawsky commended Evans for his clutch performance.
“Evy’s a big-game player,” Malawsky said. “He was the MVP of the league last year and he just fell short of the scoring title this year. He’s our floor general. He’s a competitor and when the game’s on the line he feels it. For a small guy, he’s got one of the biggest hearts.”
It was the third time in four meetings this season that Calgary and Colorado needed extra time to settle the outcome.
“Even going into overtime, we all were saying, ‘Hey, we’ve got this. This is our time to rise up’,” said Calgary captain Andrew McBride, who praised the fans for their support. “What an exciting crowd. To be on their feet the last three or four minutes, to have them behind us, that’s the support we need. It really means the world to us. It really does help us come back and I think you saw a direct result of that at the end of the game.”
Evans finished the game with four goals and five assists, while Dane Dobbie scored four times and set up four others.
Curtis Dickson notched a hat trick and three assists, while Jeff Shattler had two goals and two helpers. Geoff Snider also scored a pair, while Daryl Veltman had a goal and five assists.
Adam Jones had five goals to lead the Mammoth attack, while veteran John Grant Jr. scored twice and set up five others.
“Hats off to the Colorado Mammoth,” Malawsky said. “They went to war and our guys went to war. One shot wins and we’re fortunate to be on the right side. I guess we get to play on next weekend.”
Athan Iannucci had two goals and two assists, while Cameron Holding, Sean Pollock, Dan Coates, Bob Snider, Joey Cupido and Joel Dalgarno also scored.
Poulin finished with 35 saves, including one on a long-range shot by Jones in overtime.
“We were able to stop them on the first possession,” Poulin said. “The defence was incredible when it mattered. At the end of the night, a win’s a win. We’re on to the next round.”
Dobbie drove hard to the net and converted a feed from Ranger to give the Riggers an early 1-0 lead at 1:24 of the opening frame.
The Mammoth then notched three straight goals by Iannucci, Coates and Jones before Snider answered back to cut Colorado’s lead to 3-2 by the end of the first quarter.
Colorado scored three of the first four goals of the second quarter to take a three-goal lead before Calgary responded with three goals in 38 seconds by Evans, Veltman and Geoff Snider to tie up the game at 6-6.
The see-saw battle continued as Cupido and Bob Snider netted back-to-back shorthanded goals for Colorado eight seconds apart before Dobbie responded with a power-play goal followed by an even-strength marker by Dickson 26 later.
Grant then set up goals by Iannucci and Pollock to put the Mammoth up 10-8 before Dobbie scored while the Roughnecks were a man down with just 19 seconds remaining in the first half.
The Riggers had a strong start to the third quarter as Evans, Dickson and Shattler scored to put Calgary up 12-10. Jones and Dobbie then traded goals before Jones and Grant scored to pull Colorado into a 13-13 tie.
Evans scored with 33.2 seconds left in the third before Holding replied right back for the Mammoth with just 15.6 ticks left on the clock.
Following a pair of wild quarters in which Calgary and Colorado combined to score 23 times, the teams combined for just two goals in the final frame. Jones scored his fifth of the game during a Colorado power play just 41 seconds into the fourth quarter before Dickson converted a feed from Evans at 8:58.
With the win, the Roughnecks now advance to face the league-leading Edmonton Rush in a two-game series starting Saturday, May 10 at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
“I really think a true champion comes out of a two-game final,” Malawsky said. “We’re going to heal up here a little bit and we’re going to go to war. We’re excited to be able to come back to Calgary.”
Edmonton will host game two on Friday, May 16. If the teams split the series, there will be a 10 minute mini game immediately following game two to decide who advances to the NLL Champion’s Cup.