Though one isn’t a big number, the Mammoth knows one point is enough to clinch a big win.
Saturday, in front of a crowd of 15,034 at Pepsi Center, the Mammoth extended their winning streak to four games, securing an 8-7 victory - their third-consecutive victory by just one point - against the Calgary Roughnecks.
Goaltender Dillon Ward said, “Not every win is going to be a blowout. We need to be able to win all different ways. The fact we’ve won three games by one point shows the character in our locker room.”
After #39 Steve Fryer relieved him last Saturday, Ward came back to play a full 60 minutes against the Roughnecks, saving 44 out of 51 shots.
“I felt good tonight and I thought our defense collectively grinded out the win,” said Ward.
In the first quarter, Holden Cattoni put Calgary on the scoreboard at 1:19 before the Mammoth brought the score to 3-1 with three quick goals by 4:51. After exchanging goals with Calgary through the quarter’s end, the Mammoth came out ahead 5-3.
In the second quarter, goals by Calgary’s Mitch Wilde and Colorado’s Ryan Benesch inched the score to 6-4 Mammoth at halftime.
“At halftime we talked about the metal side of the game,” said Head Coach Pat Coyle. “We talked about how the team that made the fewest mistakes would probably win. We just wanted to play mentally sharp.”
Calgary tallied two goals in the third quarter, holding the Mammoth to one goal scored by Stephen Keogh. Calgary’s goals pulled them within one point, the scoreboard reflecting the Mammoth up 7-6.
In the fourth, Calgary’s Curtis Dickson knotted the game up 7-7 at 3:32. Joey “Lightning” Cupido responded two minutes later with a breakaway goal. Thanks to eight saves by Dillon Ward in the final eight minutes, the Mammoth held onto their 8-7 lead through the final buzzer.
By beating the Roughnecks, the Mammoth clinched a series tie-breaker, as well as a sure spot in the NLL playoffs.
As the Mammoth celebrated their success as a team Saturday night, they also celebrated individuals who reached career milestones on Saturday night. With five points (1G, 4A) Ryan Benesch reached his 900th point. With two caused turnovers, Robert Hope passed his 100th caused turnover. Finally, with three loose balls, Scott Carnegie passed his 500th loose ball.
After Saturday's Western Division match-up, the Mammoth now heads into two more weeks of conference games, both against the Vancouver Stealth.
Head Coach Pat Coyle said, “What’s really important is that we prepare for Vancouver like any other game. We can’t judge them by their record.”
After traveling to Vancouver next week, the Mammoth returns to Pepsi Center on Saturday, March 24 for a their fourth and final game against the Vancouver Stealth. Fittingly, on March 24, the Mammoth will also raise John Grant, Jr.’s No. 24 to the rafters in a pre-game jersey retirement ceremony. To find seats, visit AltitudeTickets.com.