Keeping up with Adam Jones won’t be easy

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If the goal in life is to always keep up with the Joneses, the rest of the National Lacrosse League’s forwards have their work cut out for them right now. Mammoth sniper Adam Jones currently leads the league in goals (23) and points (37). He’s coming off a monster performance where he scored seven times (and added a helper) in Colorado’s 14-13 overtime win in Calgary. Those seven tallies was a professional career best for the Owen Sound native, selected third overall by the Mammoth in 2011. “It was one of those games where when I got a few goals early and I just kept shooting,” said Jones, crediting the team’s transition game for getting the ball up the floor ‘a little faster than previous games’. “Luckily enough the balls kept going in.”

While Jones has played a couple games more than most of the players in the NLL scoring race, my more mathematically inclined ILIndoor.com colleague Stephen Stamp already crunched the numbers for this website’s weekly NLL 3 Stars (Jones was No. 1) and found his 3.3 goals-per-game is matched only by Dane Dobbie and Stephan Leblanc this season.

He’s on pace to smash his career high for goals in a season: Last year he lit the lamp 33 times after scoring 29 in his rookie season.

“On a personal note, it was one of the better games I played,” agreed Jones. “The key was the shots were going in. I feel like in a lot of the games I’m getting good opportunities but in a game like that they were going in. Getting the win was huge — the seven goals was the icing on the cake.”

The Mammoth came into the weekend sitting at 1-5 and even in an 18-game season, you could argue Saturday’s tilt at the Saddledome was as close to a must-win as you can come at this point in the season.

“Going into the second half we felt the weight of the game and knew if we didn’t pull it out it would make things tough going into this weekend against Minnesota,” admitted Jones. “I wouldn’t say we needed the win, I’d just say we wanted it badly.”

After Minny they play Vancouver twice, then Rochester and another date with Calgary. The Mammoth will need Jones to keep filling the net as they try and fight back above .500.

“We had a few games where we kind of laid an egg but I think we’re starting to get comfortable with each other and guys seem to be able to find me in a place where I’m able to put the ball in the net,” said Jones. “They’re falling for me right now which is great. First and foremost I want to win the Champion’s Cup and if I can have a great season that’s great. But more than anything I want to win games.”

The play of Jones isn’t the only reason for Mammoth fans to be optimistic about a turnaround this season.

Colorado was without Drew Westervelt in the win over Calgary (who missed due to Team USA commitments) and will have him back this weekend. They’ll also welcome back Casey Powell, who was sidelined so far this season with personal commitments.

As well, Saturday marked only the second time this season a Mammoth goalie played a complete game, with recent first-round draft pick Dillon Ward looking as if he’s settled in as the team’s starter with much better play of late.

“We seem to have all the pieces now,” said Jones. “It’s just a matter of putting it all together.”

QUICK STICKS: I’m a professional wordsmith yet I simply have no words for how amazing Athan Iannucci’s beard is. The best I could come up with is epic. Slap him in some of that Under Armour camo collection gear and you could drop him right into an episode of Duck Dynasty and he wouldn’t look out of place. I bet even Uncle Si would be jealous of that beard … The Roughnecks continue to rack up the penalties this season (read: shoot themselves in the foot), a big reason why they’re 2-3. Captain Andrew McBride summed it perfectly, saying to the Calgary Sun’s Scott Mitchell after Saturday night’s loss: “It’s the same story every game for us. We take too many penalties and we’re sitting here talking about it.” He then added “Some nights we look like a championship team, and other nights, we’re not focused and where we need to be.” Have to disagree with the second part though. The Riggers have not looked like anything close to a championship team in their five games so far this season … Forget Marshawn Lynch, John Grant Jr. showed his own Beast Mode Saturday. Junior ran through the offensive zone on his wrong side of the floor and behind the net going past and through some players, then turning on a dime and barging to the cage with three Roughnecks hanging off him before bouncing a low shot into the twine. Never one for big goal celebrations, he took a few seconds to enjoy that one … Don’t look now but Mr. Lacrosse (aka John Tavares) has nine goals and 11 points in his last two games after scoring four times Saturday night. The wily vet is putting on a show this season … The Roughnecks transition game finally came to life Saturday night, with Dan McRae scoring twice off rushes and Curtis Manning another tally. They need to play like that every game to be successful in this league … Using the phrase ‘A Tale of Two Halfs’ is so cliche among sportswriters. You hear it all the time in football, especially. However, the term seems completely appropriate to describe Edmonton’s win over Vancouver Saturday night. The Stealth led 7-2 at the half but the Rush owned quarters 3 and 4 by a 7-1 margin giving them a 9-8 victory … Junior’s over-the-shoulder OT winner against Calgary was a beautiful goal. Just as pretty were the two earlier over-the-shoulder markers Dane Dobbie notched in the game … I said to keep an eye on Curtis Knight this season. I expected big things and he’s delivered so far. He scored twice Saturday night and is second in Rush scoring with 10 goals and 19 points … It wasn’t exactly the breakout game Curtis Dickson was hoping for, but Superman had his first multi-goal outing of the season Saturday night with two markers. It came, fittingly, on the second annual Superhero Night at the Dome, where folks (kids mostly) dress up as superheroes in honour of Dickson … Speaking of Calgary’s offence, they are wasting too many O shifts letting the ball die in one player’s stick. Perhaps out of frustration, guys are trying to ‘one-man-show-it,’ making life very easy for opposing defences. Some possessions the ball has all the movement of a shot put.

The assistant managing editor of the Calgary Sun, Pilson began covering the NLL when the Roughnecks started in 2000. The longtime lacrosse player has been contributing to Inside Lacrosse ever since. Email him at ty.pilson@nllinsider.com or go to CalgarySun.com.

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