The Vancouver Stealth (2-6) will visit the Colorado Mammoth (4-5) at Pepsi Center on Friday at 9pm ET. (Photo: Dan Brodie)
With a season turnaround nearly in sight, the Colorado Mammoth (4-5) will face off against the visiting Vancouver Stealth (2-6) at Pepsi Center on Friday at 9 p.m. ET. Watch the game live on YouTube via The Lacrosse Network and on Altitude (DIRECTV channel 681 & Dish Network channel 410).
It will be the fourth and final regular season matchup between the two clubs, with Colorado winning two of the three previous 2014 matchups. The teams met in Vancouver last weekend where the Mammoth walked away with a 10-9 victory. Now with a chance to reach .500 at home, head coach Bob Hamley once again gave credit to his players in silencing the critics earlier this season; but there is no room to ease up against the Stealth.
“The last few weeks we’ve been playing a little better, and we want to keep improving each week,” Hamley stated. “The wins are hard to come by, and we’re happy that we got out of Vancouver with a win, but we’re back in the fire this week against them, and it’ll be a good battle at Pepsi Center.”
Each game this season between Colorado and Vancouver has been decided by a lone goal, with the fourth quarter proving critical every time averaging seven scores between the two teams, and neither squad has been able to establish a late run of goals to help secure a win.
Sean Pollock and Drew Westervelt have proven irreplaceable in these games, and may be relied on more with fellow forward Adam Jones out of the lineup for considerable time. Jones is still currently third in total points in the league (40) despite missing the last two games, but the Mammoth were quick to help fill the void by adding Dean Hill to the roster.
Tallying a goal in his first game, Hill will be active this week as well according to Hamley, who was impressed in Hill’s quick adaption to the offense, but assured he cannot replace the presence of Jones.
“I thought he did a good job on having one practice with us and his first game,” Hamley added. “Nobody can fill Jones’ feet, but we’re going to do it by committee. The offense I thought did a good job moving the ball and creating some opportunities, and Dean Hill was a part of that.”
Defense will prove pivotal for both sides in round four, and the key factor for the Mammoth will be Dillon Ward, who has seen action in each game this season against Vancouver. In his rookie season, Ward currently is fourth among NLL goaltenders in saves (263).
This will be the final meeting of the regular season between these two Western Division rivals. The Mammoth lead the season series 2-1.
It’s been a close battle between these two teams in every game this season, as each game has been decided by just one goal. The most recent game took place last weekend with the Stealth’s comeback falling just short, as the Mammoth earned a 10-9 victory.
"I thought we played a pretty good game,” said Stealth head coach, Chris Hall. “It was a defensive battle both ways but our offense is still struggling. There were some good signs, so we’re looking forward to another game this weekend in Colorado."
The Stealth will have a couple key players returning to the lineup this weekend as Rhys Duch returns after missing last week’s game with a suspension and captain Kyle Sorensen also re-enters the lineup after missing time with injury and a one game suspension.
"I’m looking forward to getting back,” said Sorensen. “It will be nice to play a full 60 minutes and help get our club a W."
The return of both Sorensen and Duch should provide a boost for the Stealth on both sides of the ball as they look to end their five game losing streak.
"It’s tough to pin point one thing that’s going wrong right now. I thought we battled hard last week,” said Sorensen. "We can't look too far ahead, we have to look to the game on Friday first."
The Stealth currently sit at the bottom of the Western Division but play their next four games against teams within their division which should allow them to make up some ground. Tomorrow night’s game will be the first of two matchups this weekend for the Stealth, as they travel to Calgary for a Saturday night game at the Saddledome.
The Stealth begin their two game weekend in Colorado on Friday night, as they look to improve their 22-14 all-time record against the Mammoth.