Last Saturday, the Colorado Mammoth beat the Vancouver Stealth at the Langley Events Centre 13-10 to bring their win streak to five games. It is the fifth time in 16 seasons that the Mammoth have had a win streak of at least five games.
This Saturday, once again facing off against the Stealth, the Mammoth head home to the Pepsi Center in Denver with the hopes of tying the franchise’s longest winning streak of six games on the night that one of their most accomplished players, John Grant Jr., will see his #24 jersey retired into the rafters.
“Honestly, I don’t feel like we’re satisfied,” Mammoth head coach Pat Coyle said of the team’s recent success. “Even though we’ve won five in a row, we were lucky to win our last few games. We gave the other teams opportunities, that’s for sure. If not for Dillon Ward, we might have lost one or all three of those last few.”
While there have certainly been holes in the Mammoth’s play over their winning streak, goaltender Dillon Ward has remained a consistent force in net. Last week, Ward set a season-high in saves stopping 49 shots. Over his last four games, Ward is only allowing 9.5 goals per game and has a save percentage of 82.4% in that span. He will need to stay on trend if he and the rest of the team want to defeat a Stealth side who have lost eight straight and are hungry to get back in the win column – the streak is the Stealth’s worst losing skid in team history.
“I think it’s just been about preparation,” Ward said of his stellar play in his last four games. “I’ve been watching a lot of film on myself and have seen things that I’m doing right and things that I’ve been struggling with. The biggest thing that I saw when I was struggling was that I was inconsistent. So I knew I had to work on the things that I knew would make me be able to be more consistent during a game. That gives me more confidence, and that gives my defense more confidence, and it gives my offense more confidence too.”
Last weekend, the Mammoth may have won, but it didn’t come easily. The Stealth were down by a handful of goals multiple times throughout the contest and were able to claw their way back to a tie ballgame in the second half before eventually taking the loss. Coyle was not very happy that the Mammoth let their opponents back into the game but sounded optimistic about his team’s response the next time the Mammoth are in that type of situation.
“If we get in that situation again, and hopefully we are in that situation again, we can’t let our feet off the gas next time,” Coyle stated. “Our offense was moving the ball and moving their feet pretty well in the first quarter, and then it seemed like we stopped doing that. I don’t think it’s any secret; I think we just need to continue the work ethic for 60 minutes.”
The team should have no problem keeping a strong work ethic and the energy level high this weekend when the Mammoth head back home. Thousands of fans will surely be in attendance to watch one of the greatest players this league has ever seen in John Grant Jr. have his Jersey retired after his seven seasons of impeccable service for the team.
“It will be special,” Ward said of being apart of the jersey retirement celebration on Saturday. “John Grant Jr. has meant so much, not only to the Colorado Mammoth, but to the lacrosse world as a whole; he really helped to revolutionize the offensive position. It’s going to be a lot of fun to be part of the celebration and see his jersey go up into the rafters. The crowd will be rocking, so we know it’s going to be loud, and it will be very easy to feed off that.”
This game could see the Mammoth inch closer to the West Division-leading Saskatchewan Rush if the Rush lose to the Rochester Knighthawks on Saturday. It’s also possible that the Stealth could be mathematically eliminated from the playoff race if they lose and the Calgary Roughnecks win that same night.
With so much on the line and with all the festivities this weekend in Colorado, if it’s not possible to physically be in attendance for this historic day for the Mammoth franchise, the game will be featured on NLLTV.com on March 24th at 9:00 pm EST.