The Colorado Mammoth dropped a 13-12 decision during Game 2 of the West Conference Finals.
Continuing the defensive battle early in the contest, after combing for just 15 goals Thursday night, the opening 7 minutes of play didn’t see any goals, until Mammoth forward Connor Robinson got the away team on the board midway through the first.
Less than two minutes later, Calgary provided a response, as Shane Simpson evened the contest at five.
Seeing Mammoth defenseman Warren Jeffrey called for a penalty with five to play in the opening 15, Roughnecks’ forward Jesse King was able to beat Colorado goaltender Dillon Ward low on the power-play to give Calgary its first advantage of the game.
Taking the ball nearly the entire length of the floor, defenseman Warren Jeffrey, AKA “Moose” juked his way through several opposing defenders before throwing the brakes on and sending a low-angle side-armed bid past Calgary netminder Christian Del Bianco 12 minutes into the contest to knot the game at 2-2.
After picking up a pair of goals just two nights ago, Calgary forward Dan Taylor took advantage of some space at the top of the key by firing a bid on net and beating Ward midway through the second. Drawing a penalty after taking a late hit immediately following the conversion, it quickly led to a power-play tally, this time from Pace, as the home team doubled down the defending champs.
As the penalties continued to pile up, so did the power-play goals, as Mammoth forward Zed Williams established position inside his defenseman before faking out CDB and eventually slamming a nasty bouncer past the talented goaltender, bringing his team back within one with three minutes to play.
After denying a shot from a streaking Currier, Ward wasn’t able to stop the follow-up effort, as Tanner Cook got on the board with 14 seconds to play in the half. Taking a 5-3 lead into the half, Calgary had the upper hand after 30.
Creating the game’s first three-goal lead of the night, Pace lost his defenseman and sprinted toward the crease, all while accepting a pass from an operating teammate and beating Ward to make a 6-3 game.
But less than a minute later, Williams ducked underneath the man attempting to guard him before soaring over the crease and slamming one past Del Bianco, willing his team back within two.
Taylor went on to finish his hat trick though, restoring Calgary’s lead to lead.
Stepping up when the team needed him most “Liger” Eli McLaughlin finished a stellar play by finding twine, now a 7-5 game with five to play in quarter 3.
Responding a minute later after enduring a bit of a rough streak in the past few weeks, Josh Currier cashed in to reinstate the three-goal differential.
Exchanging goals at this point, it was Dylan Kinnear’s turn, as the scrappy forward converted from right outside the crease, again bringing his squad within two as the second half barrage continued.
Making some contact with Ward after diving across the crease, Currier was able to finish the soaring attempt, making a 9-6 contest near the end of the third quarter. Now two in a row for the bad guys, King picked up his second of the night with a low bouncer, increasing the lead to four early in the fourth.
That wouldn’t scare the magician away though, as #96 picked up a second of his own shortly after.
Recapturing momentum for the home squad, Tanner Cook quickly made it a four-goal game just 30 seconds later.
Literally back and forth as the fourth raged on, Robinson completed another hat trick by turning on the jets and sprinting towards the crease, then launching the ball on net and successfully adoring. 11-8 was the score.
After logging a pair of sick backside dunks last game, Wardle awaited another opportunity, and once he got it, he was sure not to waste it. Down two now with plenty of time to play, the boys had momentum on their side.
Making it three-straight, McLaughlin beat CDB as the game of runs continued to showcase itself to the world. Once a four-goal deficit, the defending champs had it down to one with just under 10 to go.
Cook finished off a hat trick with five to play after Anthony Joaquim was called for an illegal cross-check, putting his team up two as the fourth quarter wound to a close.
Another that trick was notched, this time by Pace, as the forward put a dagger in the Mammoth’s hopes of a two-game sweep.
But Brett McIntyre gave the burgundy squad some hope courtesy of a strike with two minutes left to play as the scoreboard read 13-11. Silencing the Calgary crowd, Williams collected another hat trick effort with a sick strike, beating Del Bianco and bringing the team within one with 85 seconds remaining.
But that would serve as the final goal for either side, solidifying a 13-12 final.
Connor Robinson paced all Mammoth scorers with seven points (3g, 4a), while Ryan Lee (0g, 6a), Eli McLaughlin (2g, 3a), Zed Williams (3g, 1a) and Chris Wardle (1g, 2a) rounded out primary scoring efforts for Colorado. Goaltender Dillon Ward stopped 37-of-50 en route to earning just his first loss of the 2023 postseason.
Colorado and Calgary will now close out the best-of-three series Saturday, May 20 inside Scotiabank Saddledome.