Goals should be hard to come by when the Vancouver Stealth and the Colorado Mammoth square off in their one-game divisional semifinal contest.
The Stealth are hosting the Mammoth on Saturday night (7 p.m. PST) at the Langley Events Centre in a National Lacrosse League West Division playoff match-up.
Vancouver is making their first post-season appearance since 2013 while the Mammoth have made the playoffs every year since 2011 but have yet to advance to the divisional finals during that span.
And the game features the NLL’s top two goaltenders when it comes to save percentage.
The Stealth’s Tye Belanger led the league with a .796 save percentage, just ahead of Colorado’s Aaron Ward (.793). Of course, when it comes to goals allowed per game, Ward was second in the league at 10.89 and Belanger fourth at 11.28.
Both teams finished with identical 9-9 records but enter the game in opposite directions.
The Mammoth have lost two straight and five of their last eight while Vancouver ended the regular season on a three-game winning streak and winners of four of their last five.
Head-to-head, the Stealth won three of four from Colorado, holding the Mammoth to 10 goals or less in all four contest.
Vancouver’s record this season was 8-1 when holding the opposition to under a dozen goals.
Offensively, the trio of Corey Small, Rhys Duch and Logan Schuss have done the bulk of the damage.
Small is coming off a career year which saw the left-handed forward finish second in the league in goals with 46 and third in points with 111.
Duch was second on the team with 38 goals and 94 points while Schuss was third with 35 and 76, respectively.
And in the season series with Colorado, the trio accounted for 33 goals and 38 assists, averaging a combined 19.3 points per game.
The Mammoth’s Eli McLaughlin was the leading scorer versus Vancouver with six goals and 14 points in the four games while Callum Crawford led Colorado during the regular season with 36 goals and 98 points.
In the playoffs, goaltending and special teams always factor in as the checking becomes tighter and the goals more sparse.
Colorado connected on 55.41 (41-for-74) man-advantage chances while Vancouver was close behind at 51.81 (43-for-83). And on the flip side, the Stealth had the advantage in the penalty killing department with a 47.06 percentage as opponents went 32-for-68. Colorado was second last in the league in that department, killing off just 44.4 per cent of their penalties as the opposition went 28-for-63.
On face-offs, Colorado won 51.3 of the draws compared to Vancouver’s 44.9 per cent.
And in the loose ball department, Colorado collected 1,216 and were led by Cameron Holding’s 160 and Robert Hope’s 122.
The Stealth gathered 1,121 with Ian Hawksbee collecting 115 and Justin Salt 114.