The Colorado Mammoth captured a stunning 16-12 victory over the Calgary Roughnecks Friday night at Scotiabank Saddledome. Despite exchanging the lead through three quarters of the game, Colorado was able to score when it counted most, as the squad tallied five in the fourth quarter en route to securing its spot in the Conference Finals.
Ryan Lee paced Mammoth players with 10 points (2g, 8a), while Connor Robinson lead the goal-scoring charge with five (5g, 1a). Eli McLaughlin (3g, 3a), Jordan Gilles (2g, 2a), Chris Wardle (1g, 4a), Zed Williams (1g, 2a) and Tyson Gibson (1g, 1a) rounded out offensive efforts.
Courtesy of a “lightning-quick” effort by defenseman Joey Cupido, who scooped a loose ball at midfield before connecting with his fellow back-ender Jordan Gilles, who finished the transition opportunity just under five minutes into the opening quarter.
Haiden Dickson was able to even the game less than a minute later with a transition tally of his own, this one a low, rolling bid that which found its way past Mammoth goaltender Dillon Ward at the 4:59 mark.
Connor Robinson recorded his first postseason marker to earn Colorado its second lead of the night, as the forward was the beneficiary of an elite seal from Dylan Kinnear, paving a golden path for Robinson to stroll to the crease and tuck a diving bid past Calgary netminder Christian Del Bianco. Robinson followed it up with the opposite approach, as the forward received a pass entering the o-zone and quickly fired a fierce shot from the left point to create a 3-1 contest two minutes later.
Roughnecks’ forward Tyler Pace was awarded a goal on the team’s next possession, as Calgary fired a shot toward Pace, which deflected off a series of sticks and eventually past Ward’s left side to bring the Roughnecks back within one. Teammate Zach Herreweyers was able to convert for the Roughnecks less than a minute later as well, re-tying the game late in the first quarter. Successfully scoring on its third-consecutive possession, this one via forward Jesse King, Calgary continued its hot streak at the 12:45 mark and eventually carried the 4-3 lead into he second period.
Mammoth forward Eli McLaughlin was able to end Calgary’s run 72 seconds into the second, as the forward shook his defender on the left side and caught a pass from teammate Chris Wardle directly outside the crease before slamming one home to tie the game at fours. Courtesy of teammate Zed Williams drawing a holding penalty four minutes into the second, Connor Robison completed his first-half hat trick via a power-play effort.
Pace recorded his second of the night via a power-play tally after defensemen Anthony Joaquim was called for cross-checking on the previous play.
As the play clock approached its duration, Wardle fired a fierce bid at Del Bianco, which missed but positioned Colorado for an epic rebound opportunity, as birthday boy Ryan Lee quickly crashed the cage and converted with a diving attempt at the 10:35 mark.
Less than thirty seconds later, directly following a Tim Edwards faceoff win, McLaughlin recorded his second of the evening with some top shelf cheddar, beating his defender first and then Del Bianco second, establishing a 7-5 lead for Colorado.
Following a physical play in which Robinson was called for a body-checking penalty, Herreweyers was able to earn his team a power-play goal and bring Calgary back within a score with one minute remaining in the opening half.
After trailing by one heading into the half, Calgary Jesse King re-tied the game 30 seconds into the third quarter and completed his hat-trick effort three minutes later to give the Roughnecks an early one-goal lead in the third.
McLaughlin was able to tie the contest and complete a hat trick of his own at the 10:59 mark after an intense loose ball battle in the corner of the O-zone. Speaking of completing hat tricks … Herreweyers notched his third of the night three minutes later from the left side.
As the result of a delayed penalty, the Mammoth were able to knot the game at nines when Wardle sent a bid on net, which was initially stopped but eventually trickled over the goal line.
Robinson picked up his fourth of the evening in similar fashion to his second on the night, as the forward accepted a pass at the left point, stepped down and established another lead for Colorado. Twenty-eight seconds later, the forward recorded his fifth of the contest after coming off his pick and firing away, beating Del Bianco again.
Capitalizing on another delayed penalty call, Colorado worked the ball around until eventually finding Ryan Lee with some space, who sent a shot past Del Bianco and earned the Mammoth its first three-goal advantage of the game.
Dan Taylor picked up his first of the night with just over 10 minutes to play in the final quarter, as Taylor received a nice lob pass from King while surging toward the crease and quickly buried the strike past Ward.
When attempting to clear its own D-zone, Calgary was able to create a rowdy disturbance which ultimately led to a turnover and one-on-none opportunity for Roughnecks’ defenseman Eli Salama, who quickly finished the broken play and trimmed the lead to one.
On the ensuing faceoff, Tim Edwards secured the win and was able to connect with a streaking Zed Williams, who faked Del Bianco out twice and finished a one-on-none opportunity to restore Colorado’s two-goal lead.
Tyson Gibson extended said lead to three with less than three minutes to play, as the forward got free on a pick and rolled back to the crease, where a beautifully-placed ball was waiting for him to finish, which he did. A pair of empty-net goals from defenseman Joey Cupido and Jordan Gilles was followed up by another Pace marker, this one at the 14:15 mark, to solidify a 16-12 final.
Colorado will now head to San Diego Friday for the first game of the best-of-three West Conference Finals series against the Seals.