April 14, 2012

Colorado Reclaims First Place in NLL West

from press release

DENVER — More than nine years ago, the Colorado Mammoth introduced itself to Denver with a double-overtime win against the Toronto Rock.

The defending-champion Rock, one of the National Lacrosse League's most premier and longstanding squads, hadn't returned to the Pepsi Center until Saturday night. Once again, the occasion marked a time of celebration and key firsts for the Mammoth.

In front of a live national-television audience on CBS Sports Network, the Mammoth pummeled the Canadian visitors 19-12 and regained first place in the West Division with two games remaining.

The Mammoth (11-3) leapfrogged Calgary by a half game after the Roughnecks (11-4) lost Saturday night to Rochester.

John Grant Jr. continued his pursuit of the NLL's all-time single-season scoring record with three goals and four assists. His 105 points (46 goals, 59 assists) leave him 10 shy of the record set by Buffalo's John Tavares in 2001.

"Obviously I'm thinking a little too much about it because I played God-awful in the second half," Grant said. "We had some other hot hands.... We had a comfortable lead, so sometimes it's tough to play your best lacrosse when you're up by seven or eight. But all and all, it was a great win."

Jamie Lincoln added five goals for Colorado, while Sean Pollock (4g, 3a), Gavin Prout (1g, 7a) and Matt MacLeod (1g, 5a) also starred.

On 'Lacrosse Out Cancer' Night, in which players each wore a special helmet dedicated to someone affected by the disease, the Mammoth crossed out the Rock early. They chased starting goaltender Nick Rose just over seven minutes in, then backup Pat Campbell had to be re-replaced by Rose later in the first half.

Toronto (7-7) entered on a hot streak, having won three straight without allowing double-digit goals in any of the victories. With the home crowd ignited by the prospect of national TV, Colorado scored seven goals in the opening 10 minutes and led 13-7 at the half.

"It's definitely great for the game and great for the Colorado Mammoth, because I think everybody was pumped up to play tonight," said MacLeod, who was obtained from Rock in the offseason and posted a career high in points against his former team. "But more than anything, I think it's our fans that get us pumped up."

For teams not very familiar with one another, the contest was exceedingly chippy. Two fights and several minor skirmishes ensued as the Mammoth improved to 4-0 all-time against Toronto in the regular season.

Colorado didn't score for the final 9:53, missing out on an opportunity to equal the franchise single-game scoring mark. Rookie Adam Jones added six assists for Colorado while goaltender Chris Levis stopped 31 of 43 shots.

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