The Toronto Rock defeated the Colorado Mammoth 10-7 in an exhibition game on Saturday night at Pepsi Center. The game marked the first preseason action for both clubs.
Toronto and Colorado opened up the preseason on Saturday night at Pepsi Center, with the Rock winning 10-7.
By Nick Salen for NLL.com
The Toronto Rock defeated the Colorado Mammoth Saturday night in Denver by a final of 10-7 in front of 6,507 in attendance for the preseason tilt at Pepsi Center. The game marked the first preseason action for both squads.
The matchup was the first between the two teams since March of 2007, when Colorado toppled Toronto in a 13-12 overtime victory. It also marked Toronto's first visit to Denver since 2003.
The Mammoth's losing streak continues at home (Colorado dropped all eight home contests in 2010) with the loss, and head coach Bob Hamley hopes that will change sooner rather than later.
"We're not happy with the outcome obviously, but it's preseason and we try to see a lot of guys in camp. We have a lot decisions to make, and in a game situation like that it gives us a different look from practicing."
As for Toronto, head coach Troy Cordingley was content with his team's performance, stating after the game that if anything stood out tonight, it was the team's work ethic.
"We had a lot of young guys in there trying to earn a spot on the team, and I feel all 20 guys in the lineup played real hard. So it's a good sign for us, making more competition in our training camp."
One of those individuals was rookie forward Aaron Pascas, who had three of Toronto's goals in his NLL debut, along with an assist. For the Mammoth, veterans Jamie Shewchuk and Brian Langtry were credited for two goals apiece, alongside Jason Jones who had three assists and a goal.
Toronto gave the Colorado defense an early test with a flurry of shots in the opening minutes. Pascas scored first for the Rock, but long time Mammoth forward Langtry put his team on the board just under two minutes later.
Langtry would tie the game again later in the quarter following a goal by Mat McLeod for Toronto. Shewchuk then netted his first of the night in the waning minutes to give the Mammoth a 3-2 lead after 15 minutes of play.
Veteran forward Rob Hellyer scored twice for Toronto in the second quarter, including an early power play goal that tied the game briefly at three until Jamie Shewchuk found the net again three minutes later. Hellyer and fellow forward McLeod would help Toronto regain the lead midway through the quarter to send them into the locker room 5-4 at halftime.
The Rock would strike first again to open the second half with a tally by Andrew Potter. Toronto would add two more goals compared to Colorado's single to give the Rock an 8-5 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Colorado pushed for a rally early in the final stanza, scoring at 11:23 by Alex Gajic, but that tally was quickly countered by the opposition. Jones' goal later in the period was also negated with a swift response by the Rock, who added one more on the scoreboard before the final buzzer to make the final score 10-7.
Gee Nash, the Colorado netminder from 2004-2009, once again found himself in net at Pepsi Center, but this time for the Rock. Nash did not participate in the 2010 season following an early exit in 2009. Now he is looking to get back in action for the red and blue North of the border, aiming for a roster spot alongside longtime Rock goalie Bob Watson, who was not in the lineup.
"Its been two long years and I'm happy to be back", Nash said. "And what better place to come back to than where I enjoyed success years prior. But you treat it like any other game."
In 30 minutes played, Nash saved 17 out of 19 shots he faced.
Pat Campbell relieved Nash in the fourth, who also played in the first quarter. Like Nash, Campbell is driving for the number two spot behind Watson. Campbell returned to the Toronto lineup for the first time since 2000, and made 14 stops on 19 shots on net.
Nash further added that based off of one exhibition game, "it's definitely going to make the decision tough."
Chris Levis split time in net as well with Rob Blasdell for Colorado. Levis recorded 22 saves off of 27 shot attempts and Blasdell made 15 out of 20. Levis returned to the Mammoth last season after departing for Edmonton after the 2008 season.
The Rock also were dominant in the face off game, winning 16 of 21 against the Mammoth, an area that Colorado struggled with last season as well. It is an area of concern that coach Hamley will be aiming to iron out with his team before the start of the 2011 season.
"We will have to look at the film again," Hamley said. "We didn't get much offense in, didn't create much [offensively]. We definitely have some decisions to make before Washington [in the regular season opener]."
The Mammoth open the regular season at home against the Washington Stealth January 8th. Toronto will also open at home that same evening when they take on the Edmonton Rush.