The Mammoth looked out of sorts throughout most of their game Saturday night against the New England Black Wolves. In a match that meant far more to the visitors due to their position in the tight East Division playoff race, the Mammoth notched their third straight loss, ultimately succumbing to the Black Wolves 10-6. It is the first time that the Mammoth have lost three games in a row since April of 2016.
On Lacrosse Out Cancer night at the Pepsi Center, the Mammoth looked outplayed in almost every facet of the game. The Black Wolves, pushed the tempo, dominated possession, and forced the Mammoth to make sloppy plays from the get-go.
When the Mammoth did have chances to make a dent in the scoreboard, Black Wolves goaltender Aaron Bold was there to make the stops for his team. In the first half, Bold stopped 17 of the 20 shots he faced.
Right before the second half began, the Mammoth’s Brad Self said, “Honestly, we need to do a better job on the defensive end and limit our turnovers. We have to get the ball to our offense and let them do what they do, and that’s on us in the back end.”
Just like the first half, however, the Black Wolves looked like the hungrier and more prepared team for a fight. When the Mammoth tried to punch, the Black Wolves had a counter punch or two and landed more blows in the third quarter, not just on the scoreboard but on the home side’s confidence, too.
What could have been a significant turning point in the match, the Mammoth had the first power play opportunity of the game early in the third quarter, even having a five-on-three situation for a few minutes, but could not capitalize on their chances while they were down 6-3.
However, once both teams were back to even strength, it looked as though the Mammoth were creeping back into the game as the cut the Black Wolves lead to 7-5 with 3:47 remaining in the period. Unfortunately, the run was short-lived as the Mammoth’s defense allowed two quick goals, 16 seconds apart, within the last minute of the third period to extend the lead to four once more.
In the fourth, Mammoth goaltender Dillon Ward did all he could to keep his team in the match stopping 11 of 12 shots he faced. Yet, his teammates couldn’t back him up offensively; they could only muster one goal in the final 15 minutes.
Altitude Sports commentator Jamie Shewchuk said it best, “You need to get shots on target to score.” The Mammoth had trouble hitting the target all night long putting 28 shots off target. The home side managed to hit Bold in net on only 54% of their shots compared to the Black Wolves 73% of shots that got to Ward.
Despite the Mammoth’s worst offense output this season having scored just six goals, Self had an impressive night. He scored twice to mark his first multi-goal game of this season and his first of that kind since March of last year.
On the Black Wolves, it is no surprise that Kevin Crowley led the way for his team; he scored five goals. Crowley has now scored at least a hat trick in seven straight games and has scored five goals in two of his last three contests. On the season he has 12 hat tricks.
The Mammoth won’t play their final regular season game until April 28th versus the Toronto Rock at the Pepsi Center, but, Head Coach Pat Coyle is pleased to have an extra week off to close out the year before the postseason.
“It’s nice to play in front of our crowd, that’s for sure,” Coyle said earlier in the week about the bye week coming up. “But, one thing I’ve noticed at this point of every season is that I see that the travel starts to build up, so I think that bye weekend is really nice near the end.”
We’ll see in a couple of weeks if there is a renewed sense of energy for the Mammoth at 9:00 pm EST in two Saturdays. There’s no doubt that winning the game before the NLL Division Semi-Final match with the Calgary Roughnecks would be a confidence boost. If not, the Mammoth will head into the 2018 NLL Playoffs tied for their longest losing streak since the 2014 season.