DENVER, CO – Shawn Evans had an inspired effort on Saturday night, but it wasn’t enough to lead the Calgary Roughnecks to victory over the Colorado Mammoth.
Veteran forward John Grant Jr. scored early in overtime to lead the Mammoth (2-0) to a thrilling 17-16 win over the Roughnecks (0-2) in front of 15,107 fans at Denver’s Pepsi Centre.
“He’s a good shooter,” Evans said. “You let him shoot and he’s going to put the ball in the net. Kudos to him, but we have to do a better job.”
Led by five goals and five assists by Evans, the Riggers rallied back from 8-4 and 11-7 deficits to build up a 16-14 lead with 7:28 to go in regulation.
“We were flat and I didn’t think I had a good first half,” admitted Evans, who scored Calgary’s final four goals, all in the fourth quarter. “Being a veteran guy on this team, I think I needed to step up a little bit more. Things were going our way. We had the momentum. We were pouncing on them. Unfortunately at the end, it didn’t go our way.”
With his team down two goals, Grant fired a shot through a screen past Calgary goalie Mike Poulin before Joey Cupido scored to tie the game at 13:35 of the fourth quarter to send the game into overtime.
Just 31 seconds into the extra session, Grant snapped a low shot past Poulin with just two seconds left on the shot clock to earn the win for the Mammoth.
“If you’re looking for high-powered offences and a lot of goals, you got to see that tonight,” said Calgary coach Curt Malawsky. “It was an exciting up-and-down game. It’s probably not the way that we want to play because obviously we’ve been on the short end of the stick when we’re playing wide open.”
Grant finished the contest with a hat trick and four helpers, while Adam Jones also scored three goals to go with five assists for the Mammoth (2-0).
Dane Dobbie scored twice and set up three others for the Roughnecks (0-2), who won’t play again until they host the Edmonton Rush at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday, Jan. 24 (7 p.m.).
“Edmonton’s a good team,” said Evans of the Rush, which dropped a 14-10 decision to the Minnesota Swarm at home on Saturday to also fall to 0-2. “We have to have a you-gotta-win mentality. We have to have our backs against the wall every game like we did in the second half and come out strong.”
Curtis Dickson and Karsen Leung had two goals and two assists each, while Daryl Veltman (2g, 1a), Jeff Shattler (2g), Geoff Snider (1g, 3a), Dan MacRae (2a) and Scott Carnegie (2a) also had multiple-point performances.
Eli McLaughlin and Creighton Reid chipped in with two goals and an assist each for Colorado, while Sean Pollock, Cameron Holding, Athan Iannucci, Drew Westervelt, Dan Coates, Alex Turner and Cupido also scored.
Mammoth goalie Dillon Ward made 42 saves to record the win, while Poulin stopped 28 of 45 shots he faced at the other end of the floor.
After Grant scored an early power-play marker for Colorado, Calgary replied with goals by Snider and Veltman, the latter during a man advantage for the Riggers.
Pollock and McLaughlin then scored to put the Mammoth up 3-2 before Shattler converted a feed from Dobbie to tie things up at 3-3.
Exactly one minute after Shattler’s goal, McLaughlin counted his second of the contest before Reid added another one for the Mammoth by scoring in transition. Jones then made a nice spin move to elude Calgary defenceman Curtis Manning before bouncing a shot past Poulin to give Colorado a 6-3 lead.
Leung ended Colorado’s three-goal run when he scored at 10:57 before Jones notched his second of the game with just 24 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
Holding put the Mammoth up 8-4 early in the second quarter before Dickson and Evans responded with goals 59 seconds apart for the ’Necks.
Sandwiched in between goals by Coates and Jones, Leung scored on a breakaway for the Riggers, who went into the dressing room at halftime trailing 10-7.
The Riggers outscored the Mammoth 5-2 in the third quarter to knot the score at 12-12 heading into the final frame. After Iannucci put Colorado up 11-7 early in the third, the Riggers replied with four straight goals by Dobbie, Veltman, Dickson and Shattler.
Turner then converted a great feed from Iannucci during a Colorado man advantage, before Dobbie scored a power-play goal for Calgary with just 22 seconds left in the third.
That set the stage for Evans to lead the way with four goals in the fourth quarter before Grant answered right back with two goals, including the game winner in OT.
“At the end of the day, you’ve got to play 60 minutes in this league,” Malawsky said. “You can’t play 30 and you can’t pick your spots. If you do that, you’re playing with fire and I thought we did that tonight. We got behind and spent a lot of energy coming back. It just wasn’t quite enough.”