Saturday night in Scotiabank Saddledome, the Colorado Mammoth came back from an early 5-1 deficit to route the Calgary Roughnecks, 11-9, winning the season series.
Six different scorers contributed goals to the Mammoth's win including three defensemen. It was the first game since the Mammoth’s matchup against the San Diego Seals on December 22 in which three defensemen scored. It was also the first game since the Mammoth’s December 22 home opener in which more than one player ended the night with a hat trick.
Playing what imaginably felt like a redemptive game, Mammoth goalie Dillon Ward made 35 saves on 44 shots on Saturday.
After Robert Hope opened the game with his first goal of the season, a dunk in transition, Calgary took off on a five-goal run, putting the score at 5-1 Roughnecks by 0:30 into the second quarter.
At 2:02 in the second stanza, a power-play maker by Kyle Killen sparked Mammoth momentum. After ten minutes of back-and-forth action where both teams’ defenses held strong, Ryan Lee potted his first of three goals on the night at 12:08. Seconds later, Mammoth Captain Dan Coates got his first dunk of the season. Then less than a minute later, at 13:12, Lee came back for one more tally that would equalize the score, 5-5, heading into halftime.
Opening the second half, Jordan Gilles showed his speed, beating Curtis Dickson and Dane Dobbie to score a breakaway goal, giving the Mammoth their first lead of the night, 6-5, 0:37 into the third quarter.
Three minutes later, Dickson’s second goal of the night would knot the game for the Riggers, 6-6, but only for about four minutes. With two goals in two minutes – Lee’s hat trick completion followed by McLaughlin’s marker with an extra attacker – the Mammoth went up by two goals, the scoreboard reading 8-6 Mammoth.
Answering the Mammoth’s pair of goals, Eli Salama and Dobbie tallied two of their own at the beginning of the final frame, leveling things at 8-8 with 8:15 left to play.
Again, the tie was short-lived. The Mammoth regained a 9-8 lead less than two minutes later with a Kyle Killen score. Notably, Killen was assisted by McLaughlin and defenseman Ian Llord, who suited up for Colorado for the first time on Saturday.
Minutes later, with 5:04 on the clock, a holding call on Calgary’s Mike Carnegie gave Kyle Killen the first penalty shot of his career. The shot went wide. Carnegie had wrapped up Mammoth defenseman Josh Sullivan on a break-away. Josh Sullivan needed help from trainers to get off the turf and did not re-enter the game.
Not missing a beat, McLaughlin dove to find the back of the night with 3:21 to play, putting the Mammoth up 10-8.
Dan Taylor would cut the Roughnecks’ deficit to one goal with just over two minutes left, but a full Calgary come-back was not to be. Killen delivered the dagger 40 seconds before the final buzzer, completing his second career hat trick while sealing the Mammoth’s 11-9 win.
"It was a good game for us," said Ryan Lee, who came up with his first hat trick of the season. "We came out a little bit flat in the first quarter, but we definitely responded as a team. Moving forward, we just have to figure out what's going on with the first quarter and then, from there, hopefully we can turn it around.
"After the first quarter, we moved the ball well. There were a lot of swings and a lot of back-door cuts which helped us a lot. We just have to stick to the plan coming into the game, and, hopefully, we'll put up more wins like tonight.,
The Mammoth now look to sweep back-to-back games against the Vancouver Warriors next Friday and Saturday. Colorado will play the first game in Vancouver on Friday night and will end the series at Pepsi Center on Saturday night, which is also the team’s Military Appreciation Night.