This Saturday at 9:00 pm EST, the Colorado Mammoth will face their toughest challenge of this young 2018 season when they host the Saskatchewan Rush inside the Pepsi Center.
The NLL Twitter Game of the Week between the Western Conference’s two best (and undefeated) teams is the most significant game so far this year. There is so much on the table for this Week 6 matchup: Western Conference bragging rights, retaining an undefeated record, having the upper-hand in the race for the Western Conference Division Title.
No matter what is on the line for each team this weekend, Mammoth head coach Pat Coyle is trying to keep his team cool, calm, and collected. “It’s just a game.” Coyle said this week. “It’s just a game. Whether we win or lose, it’s just a game.”
Unfortunately for the home side, it has been tough to be as prepared and ready for Saturday’s clash due to the Mammoth’s January schedule -the Mammoth haven’t played since December 29th. “It’s a tough sort of go here with the bye.” Coyle vented. “It feels like we’re just in a holding pattern. I think everyone’s just looking forward for everyone to get together on Friday for practice and finalize all the details.”
Those details will be key against a team that is so talented in every facet of the game. Although the Mammoth are 3-0, Coyle knows that his team still has plenty to work on.
“I think some of the mistakes we make,” Coyle thought aloud, “if we keep making them, they’re going to come back to haunt us at some point. It’s still early in the season, so I think that some of the mistakes we’re making aren’t being capitalized on as maybe they would be if teams were any sharper.” Coyle explained during the bye week.
Tightening up those mistakes and playing as close to a flawless game as possible is what it’s going to take to defeat this Rush team, even inside “The Loud House.” No matter how loud it gets, and it might become deafening, the Mammoth will need to start communicating better on the turf.
The Mammoth defense, which has held up so far this season despite the absences of Cam Holding and Dan Coates, will face their toughest challenge this season; the Rush are putting in a league-best 18 GPG. However, they’ll be facing Dillon Ward, who has been in excellent form through the first three games; he currently has the best save percentage in the league at 82.8% and is holding the opposition to a league-low 8.67 GAA.
Staying disciplined and not giving the Rush opportunities on the powerplay will also play an important factor this weekend. The rush have cashed in on 68.8% of their 16 man-up chances and even have an above-average penalty kill. It was only in their third game that the Mammoth were able to score their first powerplay of the season -they were 0-5 in the first two games and 5-7 versus the Calgary Roughnecks.
Mammoth GM Dan Carey knows that winning this weekend would only be the beginning of potentially dethroning the Rush as the team to beat in the West. “They are the team to beat.” Said Carey. “I think in the West, they are the team we’ve been chasing for some time now. They’re the team to beat. And, it’s not just being able to beat them this weekend; We have to be healthy and strong and fast to get to that point in the season that means the most.” He continued. “ In order for us to succeed, they’re the team to beat.”
If the Mammoth were to come out with the win, it would mark the third time in the last seven seasons where the Mammoth started off the year with a 4-0 record. That may sound nice, but the previous two times they had that type of hot start (12’ and 16’) they lost in the NLL Division Semi-Finals.
There’s a chance that many of the NLL’s future superstars will be in attendance for this wild west clash as the Mammoth are hosting their “Kids Take Charge” game. For all information on “Kids Take Charge,” you should head over to www.coloradomammoth.com
Hopefully, the kids and their parents will have much to cheer about in a few days. It will be a game that you surely won’t want to miss. If you wish to see who will take command in the Western Conference, you can catch this battle of titans on Twitter and NLLTV.