BAD BLOOD FUELS SATURDAY NIGHT’S REMATCH
by Tyler Perlmutter
With 31 seconds remaining in last weekend’s contest between the Colorado Mammoth and Buffalo Bandits at First Niagara Center, things turned scrappy as a 10-player brawl resulted in 140 penalty minutes, and an additional 22 assessed at the end of regulation. The fight, one of the largest in Mammoth history, fuels Saturday night’s rematch on HealthONE Field at Pepsi Center at 7pm MT.
“I have no problem with the fights as long as they are coming out of emotion,” said Bandits assistant coach Rich Kilgour. “When it’s a good, honest fight out of anger, some guys playing with passion, I have no problem with those kinds of fights.”
The Mammoth defeated the Bandits last Saturday, snapping a five-game losing skid. Solid goaltending from rookie Tye Belanger, and a dominant fourth quarter in which the Mammoth outscored Buffalo 6-0, earned Colorado a 12-6 victory. Belanger’s first career start featured 30 saves on 36 shots, earning him Rookie of the Week honors.
“I was very excited to get my first start out in Banditland,” said Belanger. “It was the outcome that I liked. Six goals sounds pretty good – and a victory as well.”
“We won the first quarter 3-0 and got beat 12-3 the rest of the way with Colorado’s defense playing really well,” said Kilgour. “Their young goalie (Tye Belanger) really did his job and they outworked us on that end of the floor. If you’re not prepared to play a full 60 minutes, then you’re probably going to end up on the wrong side of scoreboard.”
2010 National Lacrosse League MVP Casey Powell, who was acquired via trade from the Rochester Knighthawks on Tuesday, looks to ignite the Mammoth’s offense. Powell, a six-time All-Pro, has become very familiar with the Bandits this season, recording 3 goals and 8 assists in two games.
“When you’re 3-7, you really work the phones to try and improve the team,” said Mammoth head coach Bob Hamley. “Casey Powell became available and Rochester really wanted Jon Sullivan; we think a lot of Sullivan. You have to give up something to get something and we are happy Casey is coming to Colorado. I know he is excited about it and we are looking for him to give us a spark on our offense.”
“The addition of Casey Powell is another threat on [Colorado’s] offensive side,” said Bandits netminder Adam Cosmo. “[Colorado] just made that offense a notch better.”
Absent from the Bandits lineup a week ago, but considered probable to play Saturday, is John Tavares, the league’s all-time leading scorer. The three-time league MVP has 746 goals and 1,603 points to his resume.
The Mammoth activated transition player Ryan Hotaling, a face-off specialist, on Friday. He is expected to be in the line-up against the Bandits.
Starting at just $10, tickets to the Mammoth’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration on Saturday night are on sale now at the Pepsi Center Box Office, all Colorado Dick’s Sporting Goods retail Kiosks, online at TicketHorse.com or by calling 303.53.HORSE.