Saturday, hungry for their second win of the season, the Colorado Mammoth (1-5) will close their three-game road trip against the Philadelphia Wings (1-6), who are also ravenous for the second win of their inaugural NLL season.
Both teams have everything to gain from a win this week. The NLL season is marching on quickly, but the door to the NLL playoffs has not yet swung shut. A win on Saturday would be a huge momentum boost for either team. A loss could leave a team reeling.
Here are the details you need to know about what could be the most important Mammoth contest of the 2019 season.
Last Time Out
Colorado fell to Buffalo at KeyBank Center last Saturday. In the first quarter, the Bandits ran out to a 4-0 lead, but by 9:33 in the second quarter, with a tying marker by Kyle Killen, the Mammoth had come all the way back to knot the game 4-4. From there, the contest continued as a game of runs to the final buzzer. Down 14-10 in the final frame, a score from Ryan Lee at 3:40 would begin Colorado’s final comeback bid of the game. The Mammoth scored three-straight to come within two by 13:27, but, this time, they couldn’t complete the comeback. An empty-net goal for Buffalo with 30 seconds left in play put the final score at 15-12 Bandits.
Philadelphia finally tasted victory in a 15-14 win against Rochester in overtime last Friday. Goals by nine Wings scorers contributed to the win. Blaze Riorden, who has tallies in every game this season, scored the game-winner for the Wings, 31 seconds into overtime. Kiel Matisz, with a hat-trick and five assists, led the Wings in points. In-net for Philadelphia, goalie Doug Buchan saved 25 of 37 shots in just over 48 minutes. He stepped aside toward the end of the game to give the win to his fellow netminder Davide DiRuscio, who made three saves on five shots.
What To Watch
Penalties Are Bad
Imagine playing a whole quarter in a box lacrosse game while down at least one player. For the Wings, that has been a reality. On average – a league-leading average – the Wings have been penalized 17.43 minutes per game this season. Last Friday, however, the Wings held themselves to two penalty minutes. And then they won for the first time this season. Are the two happenings directly related? Yes. Playing at full-strength for 58 minutes wasn’t the only reason Philadelphia won, but it certainly helped.
If the Wings slip and start counting penalty minutes into the double-digits again on Saturday, the Mammoth, and Eli McLaughlin especially, will exploit those man-up opportunities. The Mammoth went three-for-three on power play scoring against Buffalo last week with McLaughlin tallying two of the three goals.
Multiple Players Having A Multi-Goal Night Is Good
On the Colorado squad, only two players have scored multiple goals in more than two games: lefty forwards Ryan Benesch and Eli McLaughlin. In contrast, on the Philadelphia squad, five players have scored multiple goals in at least three games: Chris Cloutier (see below), Kevin Crowley, Blaze Riorden, Josh Currier and Kiel Matisz.
In the Mammoth’s one win this season, four players netted multiple markers. Philadelphia also saw four players net multiple markers in their one win of the season. A win on Saturday, then, could come down to which team has more players that can pull off a multi-goal game.
Who To Watch
Or, rather, who not to watch.
This week, both the Mammoth and the Wings announced major trades. The Mammoth traded Stephen Keogh to the Rochester Knighthawks on Monday in exchange for a second-round draft pick 2019 and a third-round draft pick in 2021. On Monday, the Mammoth also activated rookie left-handed forward Jeff Wittig, a St. Catharines, ON native who has played six seasons in the Ontario Junior A Lacrosse League.
The Wings traded NLL rookie Chris Cloutier to the Buffalo Bandits on Wednesday in exchange for defenseman Ryan Wagner and a first-round draft pick in 2021. Wagner, who is in his fifth NLL season, played four games with Buffalo this season, coming up with 14 loose balls and forcing three caused-turnovers.
The Mammoth’s game versus the Wings at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 9 at 5:00 p.m. MST. Fans can live-stream the game on Bleacher Report Live.
The Mammoth return to Pepsi Center on Saturday, Feb. 16 to take on the Georgia Swarm. Saturday is also the Mammoth’s Indoor Beach Party game. The forecast may be wintry, but that won’t stop the Mammoth from catching Spring Fever! Since the Mammoth are bringing the tropics to the Loud House, fans are encouraged to break out their Hawaiian shirts, board shorts and flip-flops for the ultimate indoor beach party. Tickets are on sale now at AltitudeTickets.com.