Vancouver Stealth (2-5) host Colorado Mammoth (3-5) at Langley Events Centre on Saturday at 10pm ET. (Photo: Dan Brodie)
With the pressure easing after back-to-back wins, the Colorado Mammoth (3-5) look to make it three-in-a-row when they visit the Vancouver Stealth (2-5) at Langley Events Centre on Saturday at 10 p.m. ET.
The two clubs have split their previous two matchups this season with the home team taking both one-goal games.
Colorado has felt the early season tension loosen in recent weeks after two close wins. Last Saturday’s 14-12 home win against the Swarm showed an exuberant Bob Hamley after the final horn, giving all the credit to the players in getting back on the right track as a whole.
“Sure nice to get a home win in front of our fans,” Hamley commented. “Another game where it could have gone either way, I thought both teams played pretty well and fortunately for us we got some timely goals and timely saves in the fourth quarter that got us through.”
Casey Powell returned to the lineup after an early season hiatus from the Mammoth, leading all runners in points with nine (3+6). The 2010 NLL MVP impressed Hamley in his return, especially after a single practice with the Colorado offense this year.
“Credit to him, he didn’t have a training camp,” he added. “He practiced Friday night with us, and away he went, and really helped out power play and our offense.”
Powell may have bolstered the offense, but it also took a major hit in Saturday’s game when Adam Jones left with an injury during a scoring chance from behind the net. Hamley confirmed earlier this week that Jones will not be in the lineup. The NLL Player of the Month for January is currently tied with teammate John Grant, Jr. for the NLL scoring lead with 40 points and leads the league with 25 goals.
Sean Pollock and Drew Westervelt have been key for Colorado in their last two games against Vancouver, scoring three goals each. For Vancouver, it was been Tyler Digby and Rhys Duch, tallying nine and 12 total points respectfully between the two games.
In net, Dillon Ward has seen the majority of action against Vancouver and is expected to start again for the Mammoth this weekend. Tyler Richards will be in the net for the Stealth who have winning the four-game season series on their radar.
"The season series is on the line and we find ourselves a half game behind them,” said Stealth head coach Chris Hall. “These next two games against Colorado are huge for us looking down the road to playoff spots."
The Stealth have had their difficulties of late and will be looking to get back in the win column this weekend before heading out on the road for three straight,
"It’s been a tough start and we've dug ourselves a bit of a hole,” said Stealth rookie Nick Weiss. “But I think the team’s morale is that the guys know that if we play a full 60 minutes we can definitely win games and dig ourselves out.”
The two previous meetings between these two teams provided a lot of intensity and excitement, as the games came right down to the final shot. In their last matchup the Stealth came away with a 14-13 overtime win at the LEC, which saw Lewis Ratcliff fire home the winner just before the shot clock expired.
Both teams will head into Saturday's matchup without their leading scorers, as the Mammoth’s Adam Jones is out with an injury while the Stealth’s Rhys Duch will be serving a one-game suspension.
The Stealth could see some extra motivation in Tyler Digby’s step on as he was earlier named the NLL’s Rookie of the Month after an impressive first month to start his pro career. The Stealth will also get a boost on offense as Brett Bucktooth is expected to make his season debut.
Fans can get into the free Pre-Game Festival on Saturday beginning at 4 p.m. PT in the LEC Fieldhouse.
Watch the game live on YouTube via The Lacrosse Network.