The Colorado Mammoth and head coach Bob Hamley prepare to make final cuts as Thursday's roster cutdown deadline looms.
The Colorado Mammoth used the past few weeks of training camp to evaluate their roster with practices and preseason games in both Ontario and British Columbia before returning to Denver last weekend. The Mammoth are almost down to the 23-man active roster that must be set by Thursday’s deadline.
Mammoth head coach Bob Hamley has already made some progress with his roster cuts despite several difficult decisions.
“We’re almost down to our numbers,” Hamley said. “We’ve got two more cuts to make. A very competitive camp as most NLL coaches will say this season. The talent level is the highest it’s ever been. Another great draft with a lot of great young players coming into the league.”
Hamley used Colorado’s preseason game against the Calgary Roughnecks in Langley, B.C. earlier this month to help gauge the potential of some guys that might be on the roster bubble. Despite the 20-11 loss to the Roughnecks, Hamley wasn’t concerned with the result as much as the performance of some new players.
“Obviously Calgary took it to us pretty good, but we had a lot of regulars out,” he said. “We wanted to see young kids and some Western guys that we knew only a little bit about. Wanted to see what they could do for our roster. That’s what that game was for, what training camp is for.”
The newcomers that do make the team will add to a talented group of core players led by 2012 NLL MVP John Grant, Jr., who set the league's single-season scoring record with 116 points (50+66) last year.
“John’s a great player and he has a lot of pride,” Hamley said. “He wants to do it again and he’s very capable. His skill is just off the charts as we all know.”
However, the Mammoth could have more scoring balance in 2013 with other nucleus players such as 2012 Rookie of the Year Adam Jones, Gavin Prout and Jamie Lincoln stepping up for a Colorado team that scored the most goals in the league last year.
“A lot of guys had great years,” Hamley said. “Gavin Prout had a career year and Sean Pollock bounced back from an average year for him in Minnesota the year before. We’ve built around ‘Junior’ but we’re really proud of ‘Jonesy’ and Lincoln. We really think Jordan McBride is going to have a breakout season. It’s going to be a combination of them but obviously ‘Junior’ and Prout are the focal point of the offense.”
As the roster cutdown deadline approaches, Hamley hopes to make the right decisions to shore up his team’s goaltending situation, one that he feels contributed to their early playoff exit last year. The Mammoth’s incumbent starting goalie Chris Levis was an NLL All-Star last season, but that doesn’t mean he’s guaranteed a spot on the team this year.
“There’s a battle for both jobs really,” Hamley said. “We have to improve in that area. Chris had a good year but we bowed out of the playoffs pretty early. We’re confident with Chris, but we’ve added Matt Roik and Tye Belanger, a guy we think very highly of. Belanger is coming off an injury so we’ll be patient with him. We’re still evaluating Roik and hopefully by the end of the week, we’ll know a little better about where we’re going.”