Earlier this week, Bob Hamley had a heart-to-heart talk with Callum Crawford.
The head coach and general manager of the Edmonton Rush felt his six-foot-two, 196-pound forward could be a dominant force in the National Lacrosse League.
Last night, Crawford proved his skipper right, scoring four goals as the Rush defeated the Colorado Mammoth 10-9 at Rexall Place.
"He doesn't realize how good he can be, although maybe he does now," Hamley said. "He's a great player, he has great feet. It's tough to catch up to him with his great length. I don't want to compare him to a guy I used to coach in Dan Dawson, but he's got that height and that footwork where he can establish some ground between the defender and himself."
Heading into the contest, Crawford, 24, had four goals in four previous games. The Calgary native had not been an offensive force for the team prior to last night.
"Yeah, Bob and I had a huge talk, he gave me a call earlier this week," Crawford said. "That really motivated me, got my mind right and got me more involved in the game. I felt I was not being as big a part as I should be before, so I'm glad I was able to step that up today."
Crawford got things going early for the Rush, who were in desperate need of a win to get their playoff aspirations back on track.
He and Chris Seller gave the Rush a two-goal, first-quarter lead in what was otherwise a tight-checking opening 15 minutes.
Brian Langtry pulled one back for the Mammoth in the second quarter before Crawford netted his second to restore the two-goal advantage.
Matt Danowski and Jamie Shewchuck then scored for the Mammoth to tie the game.
Jamie Floris and Danowski exchanged goals later in the quarter before Andy Secore netted a goal late in the half to give the Rush the advantage going into the break.
Secore's goal came on the power play after former Rush forward Chris Gill was assessed a checking from behind penalty, despite not having touched his opponent who tripped and fell face-first into the boards.
The penalty came with 16 seconds left in the half and the Rush managed to score on a well designed play with five seconds left on the clock.
In the second, Gill tied the game early before Crawford was able to net his third.
Ryan Benesch scored a pair and Floris added three more, giving the Rush control of the contest.
"We were able to go on a little run," said Secore, who finished with a goal and four assists in the contest.
"Runs are going to happen, that's part of lacrosse. We were lucky we had the home fans on our side. We were able to get a quick four and they weren't able to get back in the game."
Gill pulled one back early in the fourth quarter for the Mammoth on the power play, their fourth goal with the man advantage on the night. Tyler Crompton then cut the deficit to two with half the quarter still to play.
But Crawford tallied a power-play marker that restored the Rush's three-goal lead and turned out to be the eventual winner. Gavin Prout and Langtry added late goals with the extra attacker for the Mammoth.
"Momentum is huge in this game and teams are going to go on runs," Hamley said. "When that happens you have to stem the tide and Callum did that for us. That was a huge goal and as it turned out it was the game-winner."
The win improved the Rush's record to 3-5 on the season and gets them back within striking distance of a playoff spot.
Last night's game was the first of three consecutive and five of six at home. They'll host the Philadelphia Wings Friday (7:30 p.m.) at Rexall Place.
"This was a playoff game, basically for us," Hamley said.
"It was really a great weekend for us. We had a great practice, a great video session, talked about what we wanted to do and with the exception of the six-on-five goal late, I thought we controlled the second half."