The Colorado Mammoth play their first road game of the season on Saturday, taking on a rebranded but familiar foe, the Vancouver Warriors. This will be the first of three meetings between the teams this year.
Saturday’s game will also be the first tilt between Pat Coyle and Chris Gill as head coaches of opposing teams. Formerly a Mammoth coach, Gill is in his first season as head coach of the Vancouver Warriors.
Coming into the Saturday night matchup, Vancouver has an edge statistically, holding a 28-23 win-loss record.
Last season, however, after four regular-season meetings, Colorado won their series against Vancouver 3-1.
Last Time Out
The Mammoth won their homestand finale, defeating the Roughnecks 12-7 last Sunday afternoon. The winning team saw goals from six players including Ryan Benesch, who topped the scoreboard with seven points (three goals, four assists), and Kyle Killen, the RIT product who scored three points (two goals, one assist) in his first NLL career game.
In the Mammoth's win last Sunday, Benesch, along with forwards Ryan Lee and Eli McLaughlin extended their 2018-19 scoring streak to at least one goal apiece through four games. The trio has scored 23 goals combined, which is more than half of the team’s total goals this season (42).
Lee, now in his second Mammoth season, notched his fifth marker of the season against Calgary, tying his total number of goals from his rookie season.
Last Saturday, Vancouver dropped their fourth-straight decision, their second-straight at home, in a showdown with San Diego. In a game of runs, the Warriors started the third quarter down by three (7-4), but took off on a five-goal run to take a 9-7 lead by 12:46 in the stanza.
A tally from Turner Evans with 1:01 left in the third quarter righted the ship for the Seals, who then erased their one-goal deficit and went up two points (11-9) by 8:09 in the final frame.
Vancouver’s Justin Salt tried to spark a Warriors comeback with a shorthanded goal at 12:49, but the Seals were able to hold off the home team in the final minutes to eke out an 11-10 win.
Who to Watch
Mammoth: Joey Cupido
Last season, the two-time Transition Player of the Year forced a total of 15 turnovers. This season, Cupido is already pacing the Mammoth with 12 caused turnovers.
For the Mammoth, caused turnovers mattered in their first win. With 21 caused turnovers last Sunday, a 2019 single-game high for the team, Colorado forced ten more turnovers than the Roughnecks (11). Cupido, a former All-Canadian football player, forced one-third (7) of those turnovers.
Cupido is also tied for the most assists by a league defenseman with five helpers in the 2018-19 season.
Vancouver: Matt Beers
Beers began his ninth season with Vancouver by scoring the game-winning goal in overtime, and he was just getting started. Beers now leads the Vancouver defense in almost every column: goals (2), points (6), loose balls (55) and caused turnovers (12). Though Vancouver is struggling to get back to the win column, Beers is playing his best lacrosse.
Honorable Mention: Vancouver’s Ian Hawksbee
Ian Hawksbee, a former Mammoth defenseman, having played 36 games in burgundy throughout his career, needs to come up with just two loose balls on Saturday to make the league’s all-time top-ten list for loose ball recovery.
What to Watch
Crack-Down on the Man-Down
Along with Calgary, Vancouver has allowed the most power-play goals this season (14). Colorado has scored on 37.5 percent of their man-up opportunities this year. If the Mammoth can successfully raise that percentage on Saturday, they will likely raise their number of wins, as well.
Strong Side, Left Side
Warriors general manager Dan Richardson said on Wednesday that righty-forward Joel McCready, tied for the fifth-most Warriors goals this season (4), has likely suffered a torn Achilles and will likely miss the remainder of the season. With some uncertainty on the right side, Vancouver’s strong left side will need to be hot when facing the Mammoth’s defense on Saturday. Mitch Jones, who leads the Warriors with 12 goals, topped the scoreboard last week with four goals and three assists, but it was a quiet night for his fellow-lefty Logan Schuss, who assisted on three goals but ended the night scoreless himself. Schuss currently leads the Warriors with 21 assists.
The Mammoth’s first game away from their home turf is scheduled for Saturday at 8 p.m. MST at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, B.C.