DENVER, CO — John Grant Jr. scored at 1:56 of overtime to lead the Colorado Mammoth to a thrilling 13-12 win over the Calgary Roughnecks at the Pepsi Center on Saturday
Grant, who finished the game with four goals and one assist, also scored the game-tying goal at 11:33 of the fourth quarter to send the game to overtime.
“We had two chances to finish it out and they had two chances and they just capitalized on one of them,” said Roughnecks forward Jeff Shattler, who led all scorers with seven points on two goals and five assists. “That’s the game of lacrosse and that’s what happens. It’s unfortunate. It’s a hard barn to win in.”
Despite trailing 3-0 and 8-3, the Roughnecks (6-8) rallied back to take leads of 10-8 and 12-11 before Grant pulled off his late-game and overtime heroics for the Mammoth (9-3), which clinched a National Lacrosse League playoff berth with the victory.
“They’ve got world-class players on that side of the floor and they stepped up,” said Calgary coach Curt Malawsky, who was proud of his players for giving the Mammoth all they could handle one night after a 16-12 road win over the Georgia Swarm. “We had some great chances. It was a character game. It just shows how bad they wanted it and how committed they are to the Roughnecks and more importantly how committed they are to each other.”
Curtis Dickson matched Grant’s output of four goals and one assist, while rookie forward Wesley Berg recorded two goals and two assists for the third straight game for the Riggers, who have lost four games in overtime this season.
“I think we’re a little snake-bitten in overtime,” said Shattler. “I think maybe if we dig a little deeper maybe we’ll pull one out. We couldn’t do it and they did it. Four in a row in overtime, it hurts, but we’ve just got to build off of it — build a little team character.”
Tyler Digby chipped in with two goals and one assist, while Dan MacRae (1g, 1a), Garrett McIntosh (1g), Reilly O’Connor (2a) and Dane Dobbie also got in on the action.
Calgary goalie Mike Poulin finished with 38 saves as his record fell to 3-4.
Adam Jones had a hat trick and three helpers for the Mammoth, while Callum Crawford finished with six assists. Chris Wardle had two goals and two assists, while Greg Downing, Ilija Gajic, Cameron Holding and Mike Burke also scored.
Dillon Ward started in net for the Mammoth, but was pulled in the third quarter after allowing 10 goals on 41 shots. He was relieved by Alex Buque, who made 14 saves to earn the win.
The Roughnecks found themselves down by three goals early on as Gajic, Downing and Jones all scored in a span of 70 seconds.
“It took us a little while to get our feet underneath us,” said Shattler. “They got three in a row on us to start the game. It was a game of runs. They got a couple, we got a couple, they got a couple. It was a battle all the way through.”
Berg, Dickson and Shattler replied with goals for Calgary to tie things up at 3-3. Dickson then scored an unassisted goal at 14:23 of the opening frame to put the Riggers up by a goal.
Undeterred, the Mammoth reeled off five straight goals – two each by Wardle and Grant and one by Holding – to jump out to an 8-4 lead in the second quarter.
Digby finally stopped Colorado’s run when he took a nice pass from Shattler in the slot before depositing the ball into the top corner over Ward’s right shoulder for a power-play goal with 47 seconds remaining before the halftime intermission.
The Riggers owned the third quarter as they outscored the Mammoth 5-1 to take a 10-9 lead. MacRae, Digby, Shattler, Berg and Dickson did the damage for the ’Necks, while Jones ended a 15-minute scoring drought for the Mammoth to pull Colorado within a goal.
Burke then scored at 1:41 of the fourth quarter before McIntosh answered back with a transition goal for the Riggers when the bounced a shot past Buque at 3:12.
After Jones finished off his hat trick for the Mammoth, Dickson notched his fourth goal of the game for the ’Necks at 5:56 of the fourth to give Calgary a 12-11 lead. With the marker, Dickson tied his career high of 48 goals he set last season. He’s just three away from equalling the franchise record of 51 goals that Dane Dobbie set in 2014.
The Riggers will play their third straight road game next Saturday night (April 2) when they travel to Saskatoon to face the Saskatchewan Rush. Calgary’s next home game will take place a week later on Saturday, April 9 when the ’Necks host the Vancouver Stealth at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
“Our group’s getting better and we’re getting poised to make a deep run in the playoffs,” said Malawsky. “We’ve got some divisional games that we’re looking forward to playing. As it sits right now, we’ve got 20 some guys in that room that are just pissed right off. From a coach’s perspective, you can’t ask for a better effort from those guys. Our guys are going to continue to push forward.”