Pat Coyle and his Mammoth coaching staff have been waiting for a complete team-effort like what was exhibited on Saturday night all season long. Excellent goalkeeping and the team’s best defensive performance of the year helped to beat the visiting Georgia Swarm who have now lost two games in a row.
It was clear from the first few moments of the game that goals would be at a premium. The Swarm’s Mike Poulin and the Mammoth’s Dillon Ward were both making several key stops against each other’s high-energy offences. The netminders were so keyed in, that the first goal of the contest didn’t come until almost 10 minutes into the game. By the night’s end, thanks to Ward’s unsurprising heroics, he was able to one-up his counterpart on the other end of the floor.
The Mammoth’s ability to share the wealth on offence created enough chances for the team to capitalize on and score a couple more goals than their opponents. It didn’t hurt that a handful of Mammoth goals came from unlikely sources. Back-end players such as Jordan Gilles, Brent Adams, Taylor Stuart and transition player Joey Cupido all scored on the night. Including each of their goals on Saturday, none of those players have more than four goals this year.
It was necessary for those players to step up because high-scoring phenom Ryan Benesch left the game in the final minutes of the 1st half after he was shoved into Poulin’s knee as he was attacking the crease. It was evident right away that the contact of Benesch’s head to the knee put him in a great deal of pain. He would ultimately need to be brought off the floor on a stretcher. Later in the game, he was up walking again in the locker room and then joined his teammates on the bench.
Of all the critical plays the aforementioned defensive players and their back-end teammates made on the night, what was very impressive was their ability to contain both Miles and Lyle Thompson. The defence limited Miles to only two shots on goal (his second-lowest such total this year). The brothers combined for one goal each. They now have both only scored one goal each in back-to-back contests.
Because the Thompson brothers were being shut down, other Swarm players needed to make up for their lack of production. Zed Williams was one of the players that did just that. The second-year man scored two athletic diving goals to continue his breakout season. It was Williams’ 4th multi-goal game of the year.
On the other bench, Eli McLaughlin doubled Williams’ goal total by netting four of his own. McLaughlin has now scored four goals in back-to-back games and has 20 goals on the year. It’s now the 4th time in five seasons that McLaughlin has reached the 20-goal plateau.
The Mammoth will need each of their players to have an equally stellar night next Friday when they fly to Saskatchewan to face the Rush. The Rush were clicking on all cylinders tonight in Vancouver, so another herculean outing from the Mammoth defence will be mandatory if they want to win two straight games.