The Colorado Mammoth have their backs against the wall heading into Week 15, and they know how vital their back-to-back games are this weekend against the Vancouver Warriors. Depending on the games results, the Mammoth could have an even higher mountain to climb to make the NLL Playoffs, or they could regain the upper hand on their West Division opponents and leap frog back into the last playoff seed.
The last time these two played each other, the Warriors edged out the Mammoth in an overtime thriller. With two games and travel involved this week, both teams would prefer to only play the required 60 minutes to keep their stamina as high as it can be. It would be an emotionally draining game on Friday no matter what, but limiting the physical strain could be vital.
If the Mammoth lose even one of the two games against the Warriors this weekend, they will surrender the season-series versus their Vancouver rivals, making it even tougher to get back into the playoff hunt. With that said, Mammoth head coach Pat Coyle understands that taking it one game at a time will help keep his team focused on the task at hand.
“These are basically like playoff games,” said Coyle. “But, we’re focusing on Friday to start with and we’ll go from there. Basically, the rest of our games are really important, but, being tied with Vancouver, it makes it a little bit more impactful. Everyone knows the importance of these two games. It’s definitely like a playoff game.”
Unfortunately for the Mammoth, they have played fairly evenly with the Warriors/Stealth away from home since their foes moved to Vancouver. Since the move to Vancouver in 2014, the Warriors/Stealth have a 6-5 record versus the Mammoth
One way the Mammoth can improve that record against the Warriors would be have a strong game from their transition. They were able to get a handful of scores from them this past weekend, and it affected the outcome of the match. Coyle has urged his team to keep that up for the rest of the season, but particularly in the back-to-back versus the Warriors.
“We have to count on our transition team to chip in a couple of goals every game, and if we don’t, we’re going to struggle” said Coyle. “We’re not a team that’s going to put up 18 goals, so having goals coming in transition is key. Plus, it gets the defence on its heals, so it adds so much more to this team.”
“I don’t think what happened in years past makes a lick of difference, said Coyle. “Right now it just matter who wants to be in the playoffs”
The Mammoth have felt all year that their record isn’t indicative of their quality of play, and following their win last weekend, they feel that even more so. This team has made strides at times over the year, but Coyle believes his team is in a really good place to challenge the rest of their opponents for a win.
“I honestly feel like we’re just starting to hit our stride with Shawn Williams at the front and Andrew McBride at the back” said Coyle. “The message has been the same all year, it’s just been about getting reps, playing together and going through diversity. That’s where we’ve learned the focus that it takes to win games.”
There isn’t anymore time to keep learning. The Mammoth must start to use what they’ve learned throughout the season and string some wins together if they want to make the playoffs. Their first of two games against the Warriors will be at 10:00 PM EST on Friday with the second game at 9:00 PM EST on Saturday.