Two weeks ago, the San Diego Seals beat the Colorado Mammoth 17-12 and proved that, even though they’re an expansion team, they have enough talent and experience to compete against any club in the NLL.
When the Mammoth suit up to play the Calgary Roughnecks on Sunday afternoon inside the Pepsi Center, you can guarantee you won’t see a similar performance to their 17-12 loss in their home and season-opener.
“[The Seals] outplayed us in almost every single aspect of the game,” Mammoth Head Coach Pat Coyle said. “We didn’t play well. Going over the film, there were moments when they went on runs, but they could’ve done that more than they did. We didn’t play well a lot of that game.”
While it would be convenient to blame one player (or one facet of the game) that particularly let the team down in their home-opener, Coyle stressed that it was a collectively underwhelming effort from the entire team.
“It’s always easy to point one guy out,” said Coyle. “But, I thought our whole team looked really unprepared.”
The Mammoth will have no excuse of being unprepared for this important early-season West Division matchup. They have had the last two weeks off, which included the holiday stretch that they spent with their families.
“I think it’s good for the time of year it was,” said Coyle. “I think it’s important through our season that we still remember that these guys have families to be with. It gave everyone an opportunity to spend that time with their families. Hopefully we come back and we’re refreshed and ready to go.”
Two players that Coyle believed shined in the first game were forwards Eli McLaughlin and Ryan Benesch. Both players had hat tricks to account for half the team’s goals. Benesch also added two assists to his tally while McLaughlin had one.
“I think that both Eli McLaughlin and Ryan Benesch both played really well,” said Coyle. “I really like how Eli went to the net, how strong he went to the net. At least in that game it looked liked he’s taken another step up. Hopefully he’s going to be talked about as one of the better lefties in our league.”
Last weekend, the Roughnecks goaltender Christian Del Bianco was masterful. He stopped 46 of 51 shots. However, of the five goals he allowed, four came from lefties. If that trend continues, McLaughlin can expose the talented young netminder on the left side once more.
On the flip side, preparing to face a dominant goaltender can be challenging. Del Bianco currently has the third-best save percentage at .809% but has the most saves through three weeks with 114. Yet, as Coyle mentioned, his abilities can’t get in the Mammoth player’s heads or else he’ll have an advantage before the first face-off.
“We have a scouting report for every team and every player,” said Coyle. “So, we’ll have one for [Del Bianco] too. We’ll see the film. We’ll see where he lets goals in and where he doesn’t. We just have to treat him like any other play, though. I think if we go in thinking we have to be different than him, the he’s already in your head.”
The Mammoth defence will need to focus on stopping Dane Dobbie who is emerging as the team’s go-to scorer with the absences of Curtis Dickson, Tyler Digby and Jesse King. Dobbie has 11 goals and 11 assists in three games.
Rhys Duch is also likely to be a thorn in the side of the Mammoth as well. In his first season outside of Vancouver he has burst out of the gate with six scores and 13 helpers putting him on pace to outscore his point-total from last season by 30 points.
With all five West Division teams in action this weekend, there is sure to be plenty of movement in the standings. The Mammoth do not want to be sitting at the bottom of the table with no wins heading into Week 5. The match will be featured on B/R Live on Sunday, January 6th at 3:00pm EST.