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Ward Shines in 70th career win as Mammoth defeat Roughnecks 13-10

DENVER – The Colorado Mammoth secured a huge 13-10 win over the Calgary Roughnecks Saturday night inside the LOUD HOUSE as goaltender Dillon Ward stopped 37-of-47 to earn his 70th career win, now the eighth-most wins in NLL history.

With nearly 10,000 on hand for MIX 100 Night at Ball Arena, fans watched on as the team won its second game of the season, now 2-4 on the year as the squad prepares to embark on a four-game road trip.

Despite winning the opening faceoff and looking dominant through the opening few shifts, Colorado relinquished the first goal of the game, as Roughnecks’ forward Tanner Cook finished off an effort to earn his eighth tally of the year en route to earning an early 1-0 lead for Calgary.

Entering the first contest of his career in which he serves as the franchise’s all-time leading goal-scorer (237 prior to the game after surpassing John Grant Jr.’s 235 previous record last week against San Diego), forward Eli McLaughlin quickly reminded fans why he made it there.

Tying the game at the 8:03 mark, he doubled down during the team’s next possession with his second of the night, a mere 43 seconds later. The LOUD HOUSE was rocking on MIX 100 Night as the boys got on the board in thrilling fashion.

After hearing the boys weigh in on some guilty pleasure tunes during the radio-forward theme night, Ball Arena did it’s best 100.3 FM impression, getting some Taylor Swift pumping throughout the venue as the crowd enjoyed themselves. With some live music sprinkled in, courtesy of “Top Shelf,” the energy was high early into the Saturday night affair.

Making it three straight and reigniting the building with just under three minutes to play in quarter one, Mammoth forward Zed Williams beat Calgary goaltender Christian Del Bianco with a sick bouncer, thus creating a 3-1 advantage for the home team.

Allowing just one goal in the first quarter, netminder Dillon Ward and his new goalie mask looked every bit the part of the All-World talent Mammoth fans have become accustomed to watching.

Answering back early into the second with a short-man conversion, Calgary forward Thomas Hoggarth went low to high, picking a spot and finding twine to bring his team back within one.

Riding the momentum, Dan Taylor accepted a quality behind-the-back feed from captain Jesse King before slamming home a diving effort to knot the contest as threes.

Now three in less than two minutes, forward Haiden Dickson kept the run going for the away squad, receiving a pass and instantly putting in the net. 4-3 Roughnecks.

Getting one back for the good guys 56 seconds later, forward Connor Kelly recorded his 10th goal of the season by firing an overhand shot in the midst of climbing above a pick, in extremely unexpected but effective fashion.

Executing the two-man game perfectly, Kelly teamed up with Tyson Gibson this time. Sliding toward the crease, he exploded toward the net before tucking a slick short side bid over Del Bianco’s right shoulder to give the mammoth a 5-4 lead. This was an impressive goal by all means.

Hoggarth got his second of the night less than two minutes later to even the game at 5-5.

Receiving a beautiful turf-length clear from Wardo, which was so high in the air that it nearly hit the scoreboard, defenseman and transition specialist Jordan Gilles stuck his twig out and saw the ball fall perfectly into his pocket before beating the padded man for his second goal of the season.

And the LOUD HOUSE exploded in approval! Unafraid to make some noise down a man, it marked yet another shorthanded goal for Colorado, who’s been rather efficient on the 4-on-5 as of late.

Calgary frontman Shane Simpson eventually beat Ward two and a half minutes later to tie the game once again, this time at six per side.

Back in the lineup after being moved to the team’s Practice Player List ahead of last weekend’s game, defenseman Brett Craig finished a 2-on-1 opportunity (alongside Gilles) in transition to get Colorado back in front midway through the third. Long hair, don’t care – the locks were on full display as the big-bodied defenseman picked up his first of the year.

Coming alive in the second half, veteran scorer Chris Wardle added to the run just 53 seconds later before seeing Dickson record his second of the night midway through the third.

Eventually taking an 8-7 advantage into the final 15, Colorado wasn’t done.

Just 32 seconds into the fourth quarter, Kelly completed his hat trick in stunning fashion while falling to the ground and beating Del Bianco at the same time. Continuing to keep his feet moving throughout the contest, they kept rewarding him. Now 9-7 in favor of Colorado.

Transition goals were the theme of the night, as faceoff specialist Tim Edwards finished another end-to-end opportunity just over a minute later, now 10-7 with 13 minutes to play.

With Connor Robinson launching a fierce shot on goal, teammate Tyson Gibson quickly collected a direct rebound and instantly slammed the ball into the back of the net, now three in a row for the good guys.

Bringing the Roughnecks back within three with just under six minutes to play, Cook notched his second of the night with a nasty step-down tally.

If it wasn’t scrappy throughout the entire second half, it sure got scrappy in the final five minutes of play, as tempers boiled over and some roughing penalties were assessed.

Battling back late, the Roughnecks’ Simpson logged his second of the evening in 1-on-none transition territory. Calgary found themselves down two with just over four minutes remaining.

Finding twine for the fourth time on the night, Kelly rolled high around a pick and sent one screaming past Del Bianco to restore Colorado’s lead to three, now 12-9 with three to play.

Burying an empty net goal with 2:37 on the clock, “Lightning” Joey Cupido found the score sheet for the first time this season as the Mammoth cruised to a four-goal advantage. Ball Arena was FEELING IT Saturday night!

The away team later committed a two-minute penalty with less than a minute remaining, forcing Calgary to play down a man for the duration of the contest.

As the clocked ticked down, Hoggarth completed his hat trick feat with a spinning, blindside whirl with 19 seconds remaining in the game to solidify a 13-10 final.

Eli McLaughlin (2g, 4a) and Connor Robinson (0g, 6a) highlighted the team’s primary scoring efforts, while Connor Kelley added four goals (4g, 0a) and forward Chris Wardle notched five points (1g, 4a). Each of Jordan Gilles, Zed Williams, Joey Cupido, Tim Edwards, Brett Craig and Tyson Gibson recorded one goal in the win, while netminder Dillon Ward stopped 37-of-47 in his first win of the campaign.

Jesse King (0g, 7a) paced the Roughnecks in scoring with seven points, while Tyler Pace (0g, 4a), Tanner Cook (2g, 2a), Thomas Hoggarth (3g, 0a), Shane Simpson (2g, 1a) and Haiden Dickson (2g, 0a) did the heaviest lifting for Calgary. Netminder Christian Del Bianco stopped 36-of-48 in his third loss of the season.

The Mammoth will now prepare to endure four consecutive games on the road before returning to Ball Arena Feb. 23 for a showdown with the New York Riptide during the organization’s Rumble at the LOUD HOUSE. Limited tickets for the Saturday, Feb. 23’s matchup remain available, so be sure to lock yours in and get ready to TUSK UP!

Colorado Mammoth Pro Lacrosse Team