“I was looking forward to this game a little too badly,” said Grant. “It is a team I played 10 years with and I owe a lot to the organization. I really wanted this win in this barn and we got it.”
Grant led an offensive onslaught in the first half and the Mammoth held off a Rochester Knighthawks rally in the second half as Colorado won 14-11 on Saturday night at Pepsi Center.
The Mammoth remains undefeated on the season and has a two-game lead in the NLL West Division over the Calgary Roughnecks. Colorado’s 4-0 start is its best to begin a season since 2008 when the team won its first five contests.
Grant, who had a game-high seven points, was one of three Mammoth players who finished with three goals – joining Sean Pollock and Jamie Lincoln.
Coming into the game, Lincoln was a bit under the weather, but you couldn’t tell as he finished with his second hat trick at home this season.
“It seems like most times when people are sick and are not feeling well, they have really good games and that is what I was hoping for,” Lincoln said. “It is hard to worry about a stomach ache when you have a lot of fans in the building.”
Six of Lincoln’s seven goals this season have come at home.
Colorado jumped out to a 5-2 lead after the first quarter and led 9-4 at halftime in front of 15,210 fans in attendance.
Mammoth head coach Bob Hamley said the team wanted to take advantage of the fact that Rochester played in Toronto the night before and may be a little sluggish out of the gate.
“We knew that they had a tough game last night,” Hamley said. “We wanted to run and dictate the pace and I thought we did a good job with that. Obviously, they battled hard in the second half.”
Grant was involved in two of the prettiest goals of the opening stanza, assisting with a Hail Mary pass on Adam Jones’ goal at 3:23 of the quarter, then scored with a behind-the-back shot that beat Knighthawks goalie Matt Vinc five-hole with 7:44 left in the period.
After Derek Hopcroft’s goal at 5:15 of the second, Vinc was replaced in net by Jake Henhawk, but he returned to the Rochester crease later in the quarter. Vinc stopped seven of Colorado’s 15 shots he faced in the first half and finished with 20 saves in the game.
“It wasn’t his fault,” Grant said of Vinc, who gave up 13 goals. “We had some good shots and we have some talented shooters.”
The third quarter was dominated by Rochester, who scored five times and cut the Colorado lead to 11-9 with 15 minutes remaining.
The Knighthawks scored two more in the fourth to pull within one with 9:03 remaining, but Pollock and Creighton Reid extended the Colorado lead and sealed the win with goals in the middle of the quarter.
Mammoth goaltender Chris Levis finished with 40 saves on 51 shots.
“Chris Levis came up big in the fourth quarter again this week,” Hamley said. “We struggled in the third quarter and I thought Chris was a little better in the fourth.”
Colorado was wearing special jerseys, celebrating the team’s 10 seasons in Denver. At halftime, the Mammoth honored its All-Decade Team which includes current players Gavin Prout and John Gallant and former members Gary Gait, Gee Nash, Brian Langtry, Jay Jalbert, Pat Coyle, Dave Stilley, Josh Sims and Jamie Hanford. Gait’s No. 22 and Langtry’s No. 6 jerseys are retired in the Pepsi Center rafters.
Click here to view photos of Saturday’s victory. Photos Courtesy: Michael Martin