The Colorado Mammoth (3-5) sank the Georgia Swarm (7-4) 10-8 in front of a crowd of 12,598 at Pepsi Center on Saturday night. The victory marked the Mammoth’s second-straight home win.
"The work we have been doing the last couple of months paid off tonight. It was a nice win," said Mammoth head coach Pat Coyle.
In preparing to meet the Swarm, Coyle preached focus, emphasizing that the team needed to come together in the locker room in order to play a complete game on the turf.
"The guys really took it to heart," said Coyle.
"When we've been on the floor, I felt like we were competing hard and we were focused, but it was almost like we were waiting to get on the floor to really get focused. We were maybe just a little too distracted in the room, and that sort of showed in some of our results in the first and third quarters. When we come out of the room, we tend to be our worst, but that wasn't the case tonight."
With a six point night, four goals and two assists, forward Eli McLaughlin led the Mammoth in scoring. This was the Surrey B.C. native’s second-straight four-goal game.
"We'd be happy with four-goal nights every game," said Coyle, speaking to where he hopes McLaughlin's game will go in the coming weeks.
"Eli's awesome. And he has been from day one for us. And everyone in the league knows it now. What was nice is that he sort of put us on his back there at the end, and that's really what we think he can do for us."
Saturday night, McLaughlin extended his scoring streak to eight games this season, as did Ryan Lee, who had one goal and one assist. Matching his former RIT teammate with two points on the night (one goal, one assist), rookie Kyle Killen extended his scoring run to five games.
Between the pipes for Colorado, Dillon Ward made 33 saves on 41 shots on goal. "The Wall” also did something that no other NLL goaltender has done this season in holding Georgia to just eight goals in the contest.
"We knew that [Georgia] is a very high-powered offense," said Ward. "We had a game plan that we wanted to make them shoot from uncomfortable positions, and I think, for the most part, we did a good job of that. I think I made a couple big saves, and then, I think I got bailed out from the posts a couple times too, so I think it was just a culmination of great defense, some big plays, and some luck. You need to have some luck to be successful in this league."
Mammoth forward Ryan Benesch did give fans a scare late in the second quarter, diving into Georgia goalie Mike Poulin. Benesch was taken off the turf by a stretcher and examined for a potential neck injury. But by halftime, Benesch was able to walk into the locker room to sit with his teammates, and spent the remainder of the game with his team on the bench.
“I’m a little stiff in the neck,” said Benesch. “But I’m okay. I’m glad to be okay.
“[Tonight] was a great team win. Everybody stepped up huge and Wardo played unreal. Our defense was unbelievable and our offense was clicking. Eli, man, what a game, that guy's just awesome.
The Mammoth go back on the road next week, visiting the Saskatchewan Rush on Friday, Feb. 22.