The Colorado Mammoth hopes to be on the other side of a down-to-the-wire match this weekend as they face their West Division rivals the Calgary Roughnecks for the second time this season.
The last time these two faced, it was a hard fought battle that was decided in the final moments. The Mammoth were down but not out. The team controlled possession and gave themselves opportunities to bounce back. Mammoth head coach Pat Coyle liked his team’s fight in the first contest versus the Roughnecks as well as last weekend against the Toronto Rock.
“A couple bounces and we win that game. A couple of calls go our way, we win that game,” said Coyle. “Ideally, what we want to do is not put ourselves in a situations where we’re saying that after a game. But, sometimes, when you’re in an 0-3 spot, that is the difference. We just have to keep working hard and things will turn our way.”
“It was really similar against Calgary before they got that empty-net goal. We had possession the last four minutes against Calgary. It’s nice and you keep thinking it’s going to fall, but it’d be nice if the other team is in that position, not us.”
The Mammoth need to ensure that more pieces are clicking consistenly on the offensive end if they want to start winning games. Ryan Lee and Ryan Benesch are the only to players to have a goal and an assist in each other team’s three games.
Jacob Ruest was a particular highlight this past weekend. He finally scored his first goal, three in fact, while adding two assists. He may have broken out on the stat sheet, and expect that to continue this weekend, but Coyle has been happy with his progression since entering the league in 2017.
“Even when [Ruest] isn’t scoring, you know what you’re going to get from him,” said Coyle. He really goes out there and works hard and works for his teammates. He’s probably better than his production shows sometimes. If he starts to figure out a couple little things, he’s going to be a solid player in our league for a long time.”
The defensive effort after allowing 17 goals in their season-opener to the San Diego Seals, has been impressive. Mammoth goaltender Dillon Ward has obviously played a major role with that, particularly with his 57 saves last weekend, but collectively the back end is playing at a high-level.
“If we can hold teams to 11 goals like we did the last two weeks, we’re going to give ourselves an opportunity to win.”
Stopping teams from scoring is an obvious way for to win games, but not giving them easy chances such as power play opportunities makes it tougher. The Mammoth continue to give up very few PIM this season. Their discipline on the back end will be important, Dane Dobbie led the NLL with 16 power play goal last season and especially now that Curtis Dickson is back in the lineup, the pair could be lethal on the man-up.
“[Dickson] is obviously a real threat with the ball,” said Coyle. “They had some guys doing some great work there in Dane Dobbie and Rhys Duch, but you put Dickson in there and it puts on another on-ball threat that we have to be aware of whenever he has the ball on the floor.”
Making adjustments for this upcoming game will be slightly different then in past weeks. The Roughnecks are coming to town on Sunday afternoon following a match in San Diego against the Seals on Friday night. While adjustments will likely be minimal two days before their contest, having that extra footage of their competition should come in handy en route to a hopeful victory against their rivals.
“This weekend, we have an opportunity to watch our opponent play on Friday,” said Coyle. We can watch some film and have a practice on Saturday; I like prepping like that,
It’s hard not to love Sunday lacrosse and Mammoth fans will enjoy it even more if their team can win their first game inside the Pepsi Center. This will be the last home game for the Mammoth until after Valentine’s Day, so it’ll be up to the players to show their supporters some early love by turning their season around. The game will be featured on B/R Live at 3:00 pm EST.