Mammoth come up big in clutch, rough up Riggers again

Roughnecks drop another key meeting with Colorado club in top-shelf NLL rivalry

Article content

It’s never an easy game against the Colorado Mammoth.

And the Calgary Roughnecks know that all too well.

Article content

They were reminded of that once more Saturday night in Denver, where the Mammoth earned a 13-10 decision for yet another clutch victory over their Canadian rivals.

“They were hungry being 1-4,” said Roughnecks head coach Josh Sanderson. “So we knew that we were going to get their best game. And yeah … they played good. I thought we played good …

Advertisement 2

Article content

“Just not good enough.”

That’s an all-too-familiar refrain when it comes to playing the rivals from the Mile High City.

The Mammoth have knocked the Roughnecks out of the playoffs the last two years and needed this one to have a shot at returning to the National Lacrosse League Finals for a third consecutive campaign.

That’s because the 2022 NLL champions and 2023 runners-up came into the night with just one win in five games to sit at the bottom of the league’s unified standings — a long way from playoff contention.

And the home side controlled much of the evening and turned the tables on the Roughnecks in the transition game, scoring a couple of key goals despite not showing much strength in that department to start the season.

The key one came amid a strong of three goals within 109 seconds to start the fourth quarter — the difference in the game — when Tim Edwards put the Mammoth up 10-7. It was sandwiched around Connor Kelly’s third of four goals on the night and Tyson Gibson’s tally that went down as the game-winner.

The decision downplayed a three-goal night from Thomas Hoggarth, the Roughnecks’ prized off-season acquisition, and seven assists from team captain Jesse King. Just 53 clicks into the second quarter, Hoggarth had a goal to jump-start a Riggers three-goal rally that erased a 3-1 Q1 deficit. He also tied up the affair to end the first half.

Article content

Advertisement 3

Article content

“I think it was just a matter of time with him,” said Sanderson of Hoggarth, who turned the hat-trick with the final marker of the night with just 19 seconds left on the clock. “Thomas is always in the middle taking hits and doing all that stuff. So it was just a matter of time before they start going in for him. That should help his confidence.”

The game overall, however, should help boost the Mammoth.

A win by the visitors would’ve stretched the Roughnecks — now 2-3 and out of the top eight in the NLL’s new unified standings, featuring all 15 teams chasing the same eight playoff spots — further ahead of the Mammoth, who dearly needed the victory to improve to 2-4.

“With there not being conferences any more, every game is essentially a playoff game, especially when you play a team like (the Roughnecks) only once,” home-side goaltender Dillon Ward, who matched Roughnecks counterpart Christian Del Bianco with 37 saves on the night, told the Ball Arena crowd. “We knew we had to come out hard. We couldn’t afford to be 1-5. So to get a win over these guys at home, that was very important.”

Advertisement 4

Article content

“We just stuck to our gameplan,” continued veteran Dillon. “We didn’t get out of sorts when they had that little run in the second quarter. We just stuck to what we wanted to do and limited their opportunities to where we wanted to limit them from.

“And we just played a solid game all-around.”

Aside from Hoggarth’s trio of tallies, Tanner Cook, Haiden Dickson and Shane Simpson each scored two goals apiece for the Roughnecks, while Dan Taylor had the only single of the night for the visiting squad.

But they needed more production, especially — once again — in the third quarter. They had just two in that frame — and it caused them to fall behind by four goals — in what’s been a bugaboo quarter for the club.

“We didn’t play as fast as we needed in spurts in the second half,” added Sanderson. “We need to play better there. Then I think the (third quarters) will be more friendly. We’ve got to fix our mistakes.

“We’ve got to get a bit better.”

They’ve got two full weeks to do that, but then it gets busy for them on WestJet Field at Scotiabank Saddledome.

That’s because next up for the Roughnecks is a home doubleheader weekend, playing the New York Riptide (2-4) on Friday, Feb. 2 (7 p.m., TSN+) and the Toronto Rock (5-0) on Saturday, Feb. 3 (7 p.m., TSN+).


Hoggarth reached 100 NLL goals, while King’s bushel of helpers pushed him to 400 career NLL points … For the Roughnecks, D Robert Hudson (upper body) was a scratch, as was T Justin Inacio … F Logan Schuss (MCL/ACL) remains out indefinitely for the Riggers.

[email protected]

Article content