The leaders of the North and the West will square off this Saturday night when the 3-0 Halifax Thunderbirds host the 3-1 Colorado Mammoth.
Both teams have gotten off to a hot start this season. After losing their season opener, the Mammoth have won three straight games and are winning close games. Two of their three wins have been deiced by a total of 3 goals, including an 8-7 win over the reigning NLL Champs in Calgary.
The Thunderbirds have opened their inaugural season with dominant wins, including a 12-4 victory in their season opener against New York and a 15-10 road win over Buffalo. Their offense has been flying high, led by team captain Cody Jamieson and veteran Ryan Benesch, who used to play for the Mammoth.
“There’s always things you pick up on when you’ve spent time with another team, but most teams change things up on a yearly basis or tweak a few things, so I’d expect them to do the same. It will definitely be a great game. I’m really looking forward to it,” said Benesch. “On the floor, though, it’s about my team and what I can do to help win the game.”
The Thunderbirds offense has been firing on all cylinders this season, averaging the 2nd most goals per game. They will look to continue this trend against a Mammoth defense that boasts only 36 goals allowed across their 4 games played so far.
As well as the Thunderbirds’ offense has played this year, the defense has been even better. Anchored by goalie Warren Hill, the defense will look to continue their dominance against a high-powered Mammoth offense led by Jacob Reust and Ryan Lee. The Thunderbirds’ defense has stepped it up a notch since last season back in Rochester.
“I think we have something to prove and want to improve every game we play. Our core group of defensive leaders have set the bar and led by example, so it didn’t take long for everyone else to follow,” noted goalie Warren Hill.
It has not been just one person leading the defense this season, however. The exceptional play of Hill in net and the imposing force of Graeme Hossack and Colton Armstrong on the field has contributed, but the team is in agreement that everyone has a crucial role.
“The chemistry our defense has made has a big part in our success. Everyone has bought into the system the coaches have set for us. This is one of the closest teams I’ve been a part of and right now we are having fun and competing for one another,” said Hill.
The Thunderbirds look to remain undefeated this season and retain control of the North Division while the Mammoth look to maintain their grip on the west division and extend their win streak to 4 games.
The game faces off at 7PM AST/6PM EST in Halifax, Nova Scotia and can be streamed on B/R Live.