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Incoming! Vancouver travels to Colorado to start 2014 NLL season

12/29/2013, 11:30pm EST
By Nick Salen, Mammoth team beat writer and Kyle Donen for NLL.com

Stealth at Mammoth live on TSN2 & ESPN3 on Saturday at 9pm ET

The Vancouver Stealth open their 2014 NLL season by visiting the Colorado Mammoth at Pepsi Center on Saturday at 9pm ET. (Photo: Jack Dempsey)

The Vancouver Stealth (0-0) will begin their 2014 NLL season and a new era when they travel to take on the Colorado Mammoth (0-1) at Pepsi Center on Saturday at 9 p.m. ET. Watch the game live on TSN2 in Canada, ESPN3 for U.S. subscribers, RDS2, Altitude2, and YouTube via The Lacrosse Network outside North America.

This will be the first of two trips to the Pepsi Center for the Stealth in 2014 and it’s an arena they’ve been more than comfortable playing at in recent years. The Stealth are 3-1 in their last four trips to Denver and are 6-1 overall during the last three regular seasons against the Mammoth.

The Mammoth fell in their opening game at home last weekend in a 13-10 loss to the Edmonton Rush, and the Stealth will look to drop Colorado to 0-2 at home to start the season.

The Stealth will be looking to get off on the right foot in 2014, after a heart breaking finish to last season, falling 11-10 to the Rochester Knighthawks in last year’s Champion's Cup Final. In the offseason there were a number of changes for the Stealth, with probably the biggest change being their move to Vancouver this past summer.

The move seemed to create even more intensity at the 40-man training camp this year and it was something Stealth head coach Chris Hall was very impressed with.

“We had a great camp. We started back in October with an open camp and took some players from there to our main camp and finished that up this weekend,” said Hall.

The camp proved to be at a new level and the competing players definitely felt that intensity.

“From a camp perspective I thought it was outstanding. I think it was the best one we’ve had since my time in Washington and now Vancouver,” said Stealth veteran, Lewis Ratcliff. “Nobody’s jobs were secure. Guys were going hard. It was just a great camp from start to finish.”

After a long training camp, Coach Hall knows that his team is anxious to get the season started especially after having to sit out the first weekend.

“Guys are obviously excited to get going, sometimes training camp can drag on. What you’re looking for is game action, so were ready to get going in Denver on Saturday night.”

The Stealth will be hoping for another trip to the Champion's Cup Final in 2014 and it would be their fourth trip to the final in the last 5 years. In 2010 the team took home its first NLL Champion's Cup title and since then they’ve appeared in the finals twice. This season the Stealth would like nothing more than to recapture their glory from 2010 and emerge victorious in the 2014 Champion's Cup.  

Also, fans are encouraged to attend the Stealth viewing party at Townhall Public House in Langley and Townhall Public House in Coquitlam from 5-9 p.m. PT.

Townhall Public House has committed to showing the Stealth game against Colorado that evening in its duration on at least one of their big screens in Langley and on 50% of their TV's in Coquitlam for Stealth fans. They are also offering 20% off food for Stealth season ticket holders if they show their season ticket ID card (located in their season ticket books).

Meanwhile, Colorado struggled to remain consistent in the second and third quarters in last week’s 13-10 loss to Edmonton.  But Mammoth head coach Bob Hamley commented earlier this week that another home game will contribute to the team’s goal of earning their first ‘W’.

“We’re very disappointed that we couldn’t come up with a win Saturday.  But the good news for us is we get right back at it,” stated Hamley.

Team chemistry played a big role in the Mammoth’s stumble out of the gate, a factor that, according to Hamley, is common early in the season and something that plagued both his team and the Rush in Week #1.

“I think we’re kind of finding our way,” Hamley added. “It was a little scrambled at times for both teams…we seemed to make some adjustments in the third quarter to our benefit and played a little better…it’s just about gelling and getting comfortable with each other.”

Mammoth defenseman John Orsen also cited the issue among the new and old faces on roster, but as the game progressed, saw an improvement he expects to show this Saturday.

“I think in the second quarter especially we had a lull, but in the fourth quarter I think at least for the Mammoth things really started to click a little more on the defensive end especially,” Orsen said. “It’s a long season and it does take some time, but I certainly saw that on the defensive end, there really was a difference from the first quarter to the fourth quarter.”

This week’s matchup will be the first time faceoff specialist Bob Snider will duel against his former team.  Snider, who was traded in the offseason to Colorado for Ilija Gajic, won 15 of 25 faceoffs in his first regular season game in Denver, and will mark the first time Gajic will be against the Pepsi Center crowd after spending his four year NLL career with the Mammoth.

Defensively Tye Belanger was relieved in the second half last game after allowing 11 goals on 26 shots.  Dillon Ward, the third overall draft choice in this year’s NLL Entry Draft, came in relief of Belanger, stopping 10 of 12.  Hamley stated there is no decision as of yet of who will be in net on Saturday, a decision he said that will be made after practice this week.

The defense will also be sure to keep an eye on Lewis Ratcliff and Rhys Duch, two key shooters for Vancouver, and historically have been headaches for Colorado to defend. Ratcliff averaged five points per game last season against the Mammoth, while Duch averaged just under that mark.

Watch live NLL games on ESPN3 (for U.S. subscribers) this season by visiting NLL.com/ESPN. Find more information on NLL games airing live on TSN2/ESPN3 this season by clicking here.

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