April 8, 2011

Calgary Holds Off Colorado, Forces Mammoth into Must-Win Saturday

by Bryce Forbes | NLL.com

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The Calgary Roughnecks (11-4) jumped quickly back on the winning horse 14-13 over the Colorado Mammoth (3-9) Friday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome in front of a season best 12,213 fans.

It was far from pretty. It wasn't their best game. But the Roughnecks got it done when it counted.

Up 14-12 with about 4 minutes left in the fourth quarter, it looked like the Mammoth was going to cut the lead in half following a Brian Langtry goal. After Roughnecks head coach Dave Pym tossed the yellow flag, it was disallowed with an off-ball Mammoth player foot in the crease.

They had another chance moments later when Roughnecks defender Jon Harnett went off on a four-minute penalty. Goalie Mike Poulin made some acrobatic saves and got some help from his post until Dan Carey found the back of the net with 7.2 seconds left.

The Mammoth couldn't secure the following and that was all for the game.

"Our power play blew the game," said John Grant Jr, who had a hat trick and eight points. "We had a lot of opportunities in the second half and we didn't capitalize and gave up a couple of (short handed goals.)"

While Grant Jr. pointed to the power play unit as the downfall, it was actually their best unit tonight with six goals on 10 chances. Add in the two shorthanded markers on the Nick Carlson five-minute major.

"We were in the box all night," said Geoff Snider, who had four penalty minutes. "Our penalty kill and prevent team played well...It's something we will address moving forward"
"We obviously want to do a better job but they also had a lot of opportunities," said Pym. "They have a heck of a lot of skill on the unit down there."

Snider, who also chipped in with two goals, said the Mammoth pushed them to the limits.

"You've got to give Colorado credit. They were on the ropes and they pushed us," said Snider "It was chippy and we battled back and had the run right at the end."

Pym thinks his team needs to clean up the fundamentals moving forward.

"We had breakdowns in a lot of areas," said Pym. "It's not our systems or athletic abilities or skill set of the guys, it's what's between the ears and being focused for the full sixty minutes.

While the Roughnecks were without the use of arguably their best defender, captain Andrew McBride, a familiar face made a surprising return and stepped right in.

Second year man Curtis Manning has sat the season out so far while focusing on his studies at med school. Pym said he talked to Manning earlier this year at a game against the Washington Stealth, and when the spot opened up with the injury to McBride, the second year defender came back.

"We felt that with Andrew not being able to perform with the squad, we could fill it with a guy who is an excellent contributor and one of the best D guys in the league when he is on," said Pym. "He didn't miss a beat. He is one of those kids who loves to stay in shape and he's a gamer and that's what we love about him."

Manning picked up a few loose balls, including a key one late in the game and scored his first goal shorthanded in the third quarter.

The offense was led by a surprising face tonight too with Daryl Veltman scoring his first hat trick of the year and adding two assists in the process. The forward who came to Calgary as part of the Josh Sanderson struggled early this year while he adjusted to the Roughnecks offense. But over the last three games, he's scored 14 points.

"He's such a quality talented player and has all the skills and desires and heart to be successful on this team and he's starting to show it," said Pym.

The Mammoth controlled the game early with Gavin Prout and Ned Crotty scoring early. But two goals in six seconds from Veltman and Snider tied it up. Colorado went on a four goal run at the end of the first and beginning of the second to take the lead.

By the end of the first half, the Roughnecks had cut the lead in half.

Then in quarter three, as they always seem to do now, they opened up for seven goals to take their first lead of the game, one they wouldn't give up.

Jeff Shattler and new dad Scott Ranger scored a goal and three assists with Dane Dobbie scoring four goals and one assist. Kaleb Toth (4A), Cory Conway (3A) and Curtis Dickson (2G,1A) all chipped in.

Carey had six points (3G,3A) while Prout (1G,3A) and Alex Gajic scored a hat trick.

Goalie Mike Poulin turned away 40 shots, while counterpart made 32 saves on 46 shots.

The Roughnecks were three for five on the powerplay while picking up a pair of shorthanded goals.

The Mammoth move on to face the Edmonton Rush tomorrow night battling for their playoff lives while the Roughnecks wait and take on the Mammoth in a rematch next Friday night in Denver.

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