The Colorado Mammoth may have lost their Sunday matinee match 11-8 at home against the Calgary Roughnecks, but their performance was much improved from their season-opener in every facet of the game.
Noticeable from the get-go was the increased pressure and intensity on the defensive side of the ball. The back-end was collectively snagging key loose balls, batting down passes and often disallowing the visitors to get the shots on goal they would’ve preferred.
Rhys Duch got the ball rolling on the scoring-front netting the first goal after nearly six minutes of hard-fought lacrosse. Before the period was over, he would tally his second score of the contest.
For the Mammoth, Taylor Stuart scored his second goal in as many games to put the home side on the board. In his two prior years in the NLL, Stuart had two goals (one in each season).
The scoring picked up in the second period with seven shots finding their way behind the goaltenders. The Mammoth acquired their first lead from two goals, one from Ryan Lee and one from Ryan Benesch in quick succession only 18 seconds apart.
That made the lead 4-3, but it would last for less than a minute and it would be the last time the Mammoth would be ahead for the rest of the afternoon. It was an afternoon that, if the Mammoth threw a punch, the Roughnecks pounded the home side right back and vice versa.
By the end of the half, Duch would have a hat trick -he would finish with four goals and two assists – for the Roughnecks, while Benesch led the way for the Mammoth with a pair of scores. The match was as close as it could have been after 30 minutes with the scoreboard reading 5-5.
The Roughnecks came out of the locker room guns blazing. They scored two goals in under three minutes to jump out to a 7-5 lead. Ryan Martel scored the latter of those goals after running off an apparent ankle injury early in the match.
As the Mammoth tried to fight their way back into the lead, they came up against the nearly impenetrable wall of Roughnecks goaltender Christian Del Bianco who showed off his athletic talents throughout the game. Sliding from post to post and making many acrobatic saves, the Mammoth only managed three goals on 25 shots against the young netminder in the second half.
Of those three scores, Chris Wardle potted his first goal since March of last season. Stephen Keogh scored his first goal of the year to pair his fellow right-hander Lee. The last Mammoth goal came from Brad Self who scored his 100th goal in season-14 of his impressive career.
Not to be left out of the conversation, Mammoth goaltender Dillon Ward did his best to keep his side in the game and the Roughnecks shots out of the net. Ward made many key stops in the 4th quarter but it was not enough to prevail with the team’s first win of the season. Much Like Del Bianco, thought the match Ward made some very skillful stops.
By the final buzzer, Ward stopped 28-38 shots. His counterpart, Del Bianco brought his A-game stopping 41-49 shots. Both goalies put on a great effort for their respectively clubs in this match which is why final score remained so close and lower-than-average at 11-8.
Benesch led the way in scoring for the Mammoth with his two goals – he was the only Mammoth player with multiple goals – while Jacob Ruest led the team with three assists.
The Mammoth continued to play incredible disciplined lacrosse in terms of giving up penalties. They only made two infractions for a total of four minutes. At the face-off, the home side dominated by collecting 17-23 at the X – Tim Edwards went 14-18 and Dan Coates was 3-4.
The Mammoth continue their home-stand with only six days between games. They will face the Toronto Rock next Saturday at the Pepsi Center at 9:00 pm EST. It is their second-to-last home game before the team heads on the road for five of their next six games.