As the old adage goes, “It’s not how you start, but how you finish” But, if you start well and finish strong, more often than not, your team is going to win games.
In the case of the Colorado Mammoth on Sunday afternoon, they displayed their most impressive 60 minutes of lacrosse so far this season and it earned them their first win after beating the Calgary Roughnecks 12-7.
Even though the Mammoth allowed the Roughnecks to tally the first score on the scoreboard, they responded well and finished the first quarter with a lead for the first time all year. Coming into Sunday’s contest, the Mammoth had led for only 11:20 through their first three games. It was much the opposite on Sunday because the home team trailed for only 4:25 in the match including never playing from behind the entire 2nd half.
The Mammoth were able to control their fate thanks to a complete team effort. From Dillon Ward in net to the rest of the dogged defence to the athletic forwards, the home team was making stops, intercepting passes and scoring goals against Roughnecks goaltender Christian Del Bianco at an unprecedented level. The eventual 12 goals Del Bianco surrendered was the most he’s ever allowed when facing the Mammoth.
The Mammoth were able to beat Del Bianco, who did make a handful of highlight-worthy saves, by spreading the wealth on offence. They had seven goal scorers on the afternoon including four multi-goal scorers. Ryan Benesch led the Mammoth with a hat trick and four assists, Eli McLaughlin continued his hot start to the year with a pair of goals and four assists of his own and rookie Kyle Killen made noise in his NLL debut with two scores and an assist.
Jeremy Noble went scoreless for the third straight game, but his ability to find his teammates on scoring chances is making up for his lack of production. He added four more assists tonight to bring his team-leading assist total to 13.
It surely helped the Mammoth on offence to have nine power play opportunities. Before today, they had had a total of seven man-up chances. Playing with that advantage, the home side mustered three goals while the Roughnecks struggled on their five power play attempts by scoring just once.
It seemed as though as the Mammoth extended their lead, Ward’s confidence grew in net. He surrendered two goals in the final 28 minutes as well as no goals in the final 20 minutes. The impeccable goaltender stopped 32-39 shots and has blocked 89-107 shots over his last two games.
This comfortable win was a strong way to break out of the Mammoth’s early-season slump and to end their season-opening homestand. The Mammoth will look to continue their success next Saturday in Vancouver against the Warriors. The game will be featured on B/R Live at 10 pm EST on January 26th.