CALGARY - A five minute major was the turning point Saturday night for the Calgary Roughnecks, just not in the way you'd normally expect.
Scott Ranger scored three times including a short-handed goal early in the third quarter that put Calgary ahead for good as the Roughnecks defeated the Colorado Mammoth 15-10 in a National Lacrosse League West Division semifinal.
After failing to score on a two minute power play early in the third quarter, Colorado got another opportunity to seize control, this time with a five-minute man advantage when Calgary’s Curtis Dickson was assessed a major for high-sticking Mammoth defenceman Rory Smith.
Ranger made it 8-7 at 5:07 and on the same penalty kill, Jeff Shattler scored at 8:10, electrifying the raucous Scotiabank Saddledome crowd of 8,726. Calgary never looked back after that.
"We're a team and we're going to bail each other out when we make mistakes," said Ranger. "Dickson is a guy who has worked his butt off all year for us. Seeing him sitting over there for five minutes, we just knew we had to rally behind him."
Calgary was second in the NLL with 12 short-handed goals during the regular season but Dickson had scored half of them. No problem, his teammates stepped up.
"Probably the most nerve-wracking five minutes of my life. When you put your team down like that and you've got to sit in the box and there's nothing you can do," said Dickson. "Seeing the team play like that, my team bailed me out big time. They shut those guys down and that was a huge turning point in the game."
Colorado has only given up five short[handed goals all season.
"When we look back at it tomorrow, it will be that five minute penalty," said Colorado coach Bob Hamley. :They rallied around it and we didn't. They got two shorties on us and it snowballed from there."
Calgary built a 13-7 lead before Colorado finally scored its first goal of the second half, nearly three minutes into the fourth quarter.
"Phenomenal job," said Ranger, describing the penalty kill. "We got two goals on them and that never happens in lacrosse. That was a huge swing for us and we kept the momentum going and kept it going from there and never looked back."
Shattler and NLL-leading regular season scorer Shawn Evans also had three goals for Calgary. Also scoring was Joe Resetarits, Curtis Dickson, Travis Cornwall, Darryl Veltman, Peter McFetridge and Nolan Heavenor.
Adam Jones led the attack for Colorado with four goals. Casey Powell scored three, John Grant Jr. had a pair and Mat MacLeod had the other.
Calgary will host the West Final next Saturday against the Washington Stealth, who earlier Saturday overcame a 7-2 halftime deficit to win 12-11 over the Edmonton Rush.
"They've got a world class goaltender and they've got really big guys on the back end and they have a very dynamic offence," Calgary coach Curt Malawsky said about the match-up. "We’ll enjoy this one then we'll go to work tomorrow morning and we’ll have a game plan ready for them."
In the very competitive West division, Calgary finished the season 9-7 and in a three-way tie for first with Washington and Edmonton. The Roughnecks emerged as the top seed based on the tiebreaker.
Colorado was not far behind, ending up even with Minnesota at 7-9, but getting the benefit of the tiebreaker to take fourth.
The two teams looked even through the first half too, with the game back and forth and both teams taking turns with the lead.
The goal that would typify the sudden turn of events in what was a very even game through two quarters was Veltman's goal that made it 10-7, just 22 seconds after Dickson’s penalty expired. Two Mammoth defenders collided with each other, both going down and leaving a lane for Veltman, who buried a shot behind Tye Belanger.
"We didn't score in the third quarter. You can't go through a quarter without scoring at least one goal," said Hamley. "We just couldn't get that goal and then we're just chasing and chasing in the fourth quarter. They kept coming, they had momentum and we couldn't get the momentum."
Notes: During the regular season, Colorado was tied for first in fewest short-handed goals against with five. Calgary was second in the league with 12 short-handed goals scored … Roughnecks captain Andrew McBride played in his 17th playoff game, which moves him ahead of Kaleb Toth for most playoff games in team history … In their 12 years, the Roughnecks have played Colorado more than any other team. Colorado holds a 15-14 lead in the regular season while the Calgary has won five of six playoff meetings. Both years Calgary won the Champion's Cup (2004, 2009), they beat the Mammoth along the way … Colorado captain Gavin Prout (coach’s decision) did not play.