The Colorado Mammoth opened their season at home inside the Pepsi Center against the expansion San Diego Seals. While the “Loud House” was as advertised, it was the visiting Seals that made the most noise on the night eventually beating the Mammoth 17-12.
The Seals were able to crack the codes of the defensive Mammoth minds of head coach Pat Coyle and assistant coach Andrew McBride. The 17 goals allowed by the home side were the most they had given up in a game since they surrendered 17 scores to the Saskatchewan Rush in January of last season.
In the 1st period, it didn’t look as though either team would have a high goal tally as both goaltenders looked particularly strong. The Mammoth’s Dillon Ward made seven saves while the Seals Frank Scigliano stopped 12 shots.
Notably in the 1st period however, the Seal’s Kyle Buchanan recorded his 200th career assist by feeding this year’s top draft pick, Austin Staats, who scored scored his first career goal.
The Seals stepped up their high-powered offence six minutes into the 2nd period. After trailing 3-2, Casey Jackson began a 6-1 Mammoth run that lasted six minutes. The only Mammoth goal in that span was from Ryan Benesch; it was his 400th goal of his career.
The teams also had showed great disciplined by not allowing either side to have a man-up opportunity until there was 5:27 left in the 1st half.
The Seals started the 2nd half just as the ended the 1st. They put in two goals to bring the lead to 10-5. The crowd was growing frustrated at that point and began to heckle their home side. That seemed to spark a run in the Mammoth who then rattled off four straight goals to cut the lead to 10-9.
Unfortunately, that’s as close as they would get to catching the Seals on this night. Shortly after the Mammoth’s run, the Seals hit back with four straight goals of their own. By the end of the 3rd, the score was 14-10.
Midway through the 3rd, the offensive onslaught from the Seals overwhelmed Ward and the coaching staff decided to take him out and replace him with Steve Fryer.
Things didn’t get much better for the Mammoth in the 4th period, but it wasn’t due to a lack of trying. The offence fired 16 shots at Scigliano, but only two managed to get by the veteran goaltender. Fryer tried his best in the final frame to keep his team in the contest stopping seven of 10 shots, but the Mammoth offence couldn’t muster enough goals.
By the final whistle, it was clear that the Mammoth have a few kinks to still workout if they want to compete in the highly-competitive West Division.
This wasn’t the start that the home side were looking for considering Coyle has publicly said that he feels this team could contender for the NLL Cup this season. The Mammoth hadn’t lost a season-opener since 2014.
The Mammoth will now have until January 6th when they’ll play their next game to figure out how to turn things around. The match will again be featured at the Pepsi Center, so hopefully next time they can give the fans what they’re looking for — a win.