SUNDAY SHOWDOWN PITS MAMMOTH AGAINST WINGS
by Tyler Perlmutter
Being the first overall selection in the National Lacrosse League Entry Draft comes with enormous expectations. With a combined 2,035 career points and counting, Mammoth forwards John Grant Jr. (1999 Entry Draft) and Gavin Prout (2001 Entry Draft) have lived up to those expectations.
Sunday’s matchup features another first overall selection in Wings forward Kevin Crowley. The 24-year-old, who is just 6 points away from the century mark, topped the draft board in the 2011 NLL Entry Draft.
While Crowley may have been tops at the draft, Colorado’s Adam Jones, who was selected by the Mammoth two picks later, was the league’s 2012 Rookie of the Year. And when Colorado played in Philadelphia in late-March last season, Jones scored the overtime game-winner.
“The game in Philadelphia was one of the more physical games we had last year,” said Mammoth head coach Bob Hamley. “We were fortunate to come out with an overtime win but Philadelphia is very athletic and is in the same situation we are, just trying to find ourselves.”
The game was the last time the Mammoth took the turf on a Sunday. Nearly a year later, Colorado (2-4) and Philadelphia (2-3) are set to square off for another Sunday showdown at Wells Fargo Arena at 2:00pm MST.
“Philly presents another challenge this weekend and at the end of the day, we need to keep getting better,” said Hamley. “We need to keep…improving at all facets of our game so hopefully we can get that started on Sunday.”
“We match up well with Colorado,” said Wings’ head coach & general manager Johnny Mouradian. “We have to focus on what we do in order to play better than Colorado in our building.”
As the Mammoth (2-4) aims to inch closer to the .500 mark, the Wings attempt to snap a three-game losing skid, taking on the Rochester Knighthawks on Saturday before returning home to face the Mammoth. After back-to-back wins against the Buffalo Bandits and Toronto Rock to start the season, Philadelphia has lost three straight.
“It’s all about the little games that we have to be better than our opponents,” said Mouradian. “When you are a man up, you need to stay out of the penalty box. When you are a man down, you need to stay out of the penalty box. All those little situations, you just have to be better than your opponents.”
The Mammoth has lost two straight, including a 14-7 defeat to the Edmonton Rush at Pepsi Center last Saturday.
“For the most part [our] defense played pretty well,” said Hamley, referring to the home loss. “If you keep putting pressure on our defense to make a stop every time down, it gets a little tough.”
The game will be broadcast live online on the NLL Network on YouTube and on Altitude Sports on Tuesday, February 26 at 11:30pm MST.
Missing from this year’s Wings squad is forward Dan Dawson, who led the team in assists (78) and points (103) in 2012. He was traded to Rochester in December.
Tickets for the Mammoth’s next home game on March 2nd against the defending NLL champion Knighthawks 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.